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Published: 31. August 2015
Last updated: 14. October 2015
Category: Uncategorized

The need for competency in sickness absence management

During the 1990’s we believed that giving practitioners courses in evidence-based practice was enough to make them work “evidence-based”. We thought that as long as they learned a bit more about research, they would have the competency to make the «right» decisions and to choose the most effective interventions. Now we know better.

Today only a minority of people still believe in the old method we called “evidence-based practice”. Early on in my career, I used to travel from hospital to hospital and hold courses in evidence-based practice. This was until I realized that simply holding a course made little or no change. If we look internationally, today’s message is that knowledge translation and implementation research is essential for the successful transition between research and the practice field, the workplace, the media and politics. Close interaction and dialog between researchers and society is crucial. That the different actors’ are involved in all the phases of research is essential in order for research to be usable and relevant in practice. Luckily, the belief that research alone can tell us what is the right thing to do in any situation has passed. Research communication to society requires translation and innovative thinking.

This is today’s recipe for successful knowledge translation. This is also the main concept in the network organization Presenter. Presenter has started a large and ambitious project, formulated through the statement: Making Sense of Science.

But what does the expression Knowledge Translation mean? I will not go on about the different definitions used in the research literature. We have reviewed the international literature, and have established that there exist numerous variations. Perhaps the most worrying part is that the term is more commonly used as an aphorism in celebration speeches. It has become a fashion statement. Simply put, Knowledge Translation is concerned with the need for research to be processed and accurately translated before it can be put to use in the society. And this is not something that can happen after the researcher has completed the research project. This process has to start before the research is commenced. To successfully translate knowledge into practice, we need to involve a number of different methods, so that the research findings don’t just emerge as words in a report or an article, but as new and improved services, methods, programs, products, policies, guidelines, checklists, assessment tools, guides, search platforms etc. In other words, it has to be made into something that is useful in the everyday life of health professionals, social workers, human resource personnel, managers, politicians, or anyone else who needs research in their everyday life.

In Presenter we call this “Society-ready research”.

If we want to succeed with our ambition of “Making sense of Science, our future researchers need the skills for making research society-ready. We are therefor thrilled that the first course in Knowledge Translation in Europe will start in the spring of 2016. Presenter took the initiative for starting this course years ago, and Oslo and Akershus University College were chosen as our main cooperative partners. The course is aimed at all types of researchers, from every profession and discipline, in line with Presenter’s vision. It will be provided as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), so your geographical location is not an obstacle for participation. You can study knowledge translation from wherever you are, or wherever you want to be.

However, Knowledge translation is not enough. Implementation science is a growing research field internationally. Even though an intervention has proven to be successful in a specific context, a number of studies have found that how the program is implemented often is more important than the content of the intervention. This tells us that the research we do in the future must change its focus from only being concerned with evaluating effects, to focusing more on conversion, transformation and implementation.

Presenter’s aim is to be an important provider of knowledge translation. Presenter Plenum is the name of the network you can join if you want to take part in this work. In order to be qualified for the future, we need to develop skills in user-involved knowledge translation and implementation science. If knowledge translation is matched with service innovation, we are getting close to where tomorrow’s research agenda should be.

This is where I want to be – do you?

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