TSPN Talks with Dr. Monika Kastner

On June 24th, TSPN Talks hosted Dr. Monika Kastner, Research Chair of Knowledge Translation and Implementation at North York General Hospital. Dr. Kastner’s talk focused on defining knowledge translation (KT), introducing KT activities, and discussing the challenges and opportunities in KT practice.

Dr. Kastner described KT as an active process that encompasses everything from the “creation of new knowledge” to its fundamental “application and use.” Essentially, it describes the process of bridging research results into informed policies and clinical practices. Thus, “knowledge users” or the people who rely on this knowledge to help them make informed decisions, also help guide research questions.

Next, Dr. Kastner explored the importance of KT in society. She explained that it is not enough to just have strong discovery research, such as a new biochemical pathway implicated in heart failure, but we also need strong implementation research to systematically implement that knowledge into existing healthcare systems. For example, in a clinical setting, 1/3rd of patients do not receive treatments which have previously been proven effective. On average, it can take 17 years to translate evidence into practice! KT can significantly reduce that to 3 years.

One model used to achieve KT that was described by Dr. Kastner is called the Knowledge to Action Model (KTA). This model uses a tiered approach for knowledge accumulation before application. It helps identify the target audience, potential problems/barriers, the scope of the research, and processes to monitor progress and develop timelines for research. The overall goal of this framework is “to produce a body of knowledge that will be relevant to those who will use that knowledge.”

The talk also covered ideas around how KT research can be categorized into two parts, KT Practice and KT Science. KT practice involves developing a plan or knowledge product whereas KT Science involves studying methods of knowledge uptake strategies. Dr. Kastner then broke down the activities of KT practice into 3 broad domains:

Dr. Kastner also explained that there are three “impact drivers” that should be considered across those domains. These are scalability, sustainability and integrative KT. Integrative KT involves active engagement of all the different knowledge users; it is shown to be a strong predictor of impact. Sustainability is when an innovation becomes part of routine care. Scalability refers to how well an application can be translated from a small-scale pilot project to the “real-world” while retaining its effectiveness.

We wish to thank Dr. Kastner for providing an excellent overview of KT and explaining its importance and the activities involved. We also wish to acknowledge the generous financial support from the SGS Sponsorship Fund.

For those who were unable to attend, you can also check out our Twitter thread for another summary of the talk or watch the entire talk on our Youtube channel.

— The TSPN team

TSPN is a student science policy group at the University of Toronto, where students & researchers can learn more about and engage in science policy.