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      The dark side of coproduction: do the costs outweigh the benefits for health research?

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          Abstract

          Background

          Coproduction, a collaborative model of research that includes stakeholders in the research process, has been widely advocated as a means of facilitating research use and impact. We summarise the arguments in favour of coproduction, the different approaches to establishing coproductive work and their costs, and offer some advice as to when and how to consider coproduction.

          Debate

          Despite the multiplicity of reasons and incentives to coproduce, there is little consensus about what coproduction is, why we do it, what effects we are trying to achieve, or the best coproduction techniques to achieve policy, practice or population health change. Furthermore, coproduction is not free risk or cost. Tensions can arise throughout coproduced research processes between the different interests involved. We identify five types of costs associated with coproduced research affecting the research itself, the research process, professional risks for researchers and stakeholders, personal risks for researchers and stakeholders, and risks to the wider cause of scholarship. Yet, these costs are rarely referred to in the literature, which generally calls for greater inclusion of stakeholders in research processes, focusing exclusively on potential positives. There are few tools to help researchers avoid or alleviate risks to themselves and their stakeholders.

          Conclusions

          First, we recommend identifying specific motivations for coproduction and clarifying exactly which outcomes are required for whom for any particular piece of research. Second, we suggest selecting strategies specifically designed to enable these outcomes to be achieved, and properly evaluated. Finally, in the absence of strong evidence about the impact and process of coproduction, we advise a cautious approach to coproduction. This would involve conscious and reflective research practice, evaluation of how coproduced research practices change outcomes, and exploration of the costs and benefits of coproduction. We propose some preliminary advice to help decide when coproduction is likely to be more or less useful.

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          Most cited references 59

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          Integrated knowledge translation (IKT) in health care: a scoping review

          Background Integrated knowledge translation (IKT) refers to collaboration between researchers and decision-makers. While advocated as an approach for enhancing the relevance and use of research, IKT is challenging and inconsistently applied. This study sought to inform future IKT practice and research by synthesizing studies that empirically evaluated IKT and identifying knowledge gaps. Methods We performed a scoping review. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library from 2005 to 2014 for English language studies that evaluated IKT interventions involving researchers and organizational or policy-level decision-makers. Data were extracted on study characteristics, IKT intervention (theory, content, mode, duration, frequency, personnel, participants, timing from initiation, initiator, source of funding, decision-maker involvement), and enablers, barriers, and outcomes reported by studies. We performed content analysis and reported summary statistics. Results Thirteen studies were eligible after screening 14,754 titles and reviewing 106 full-text studies. Details about IKT activities were poorly reported, and none were formally based on theory. Studies varied in the number and type of interactions between researchers and decision-makers; meetings were the most common format. All studies reported barriers and facilitators. Studies reported a range of positive and sub-optimal outcomes. Outcomes did not appear to be associated with initiator of the partnership, dedicated funding, partnership maturity, nature of decision-maker involvement, presence or absence of enablers or barriers, or the number of different IKT activities. Conclusions The IKT strategies that achieve beneficial outcomes remain unknown. We generated a summary of IKT approaches, enablers, barriers, conditions, and outcomes that can serve as the basis for a future review or for planning ongoing primary research. Future research can contribute to three identified knowledge gaps by examining (1) how different IKT strategies influence outcomes, (2) the relationship between the logic or theory underlying IKT interventions and beneficial outcomes, and (3) when and how decision-makers should be involved in the research process. Future IKT initiatives should more systematically plan and document their design and implementation, and evaluations should report the findings with sufficient detail to reveal how IKT was associated with outcomes. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-016-0399-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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            New directions in evidence-based policy research: a critical analysis of the literature

            Despite 40 years of research into evidence-based policy (EBP) and a continued drive from both policymakers and researchers to increase research uptake in policy, barriers to the use of evidence are persistently identified in the literature. However, it is not clear what explains this persistence – whether they represent real factors, or if they are artefacts of approaches used to study EBP. Based on an updated review, this paper analyses this literature to explain persistent barriers and facilitators. We critically describe the literature in terms of its theoretical underpinnings, definitions of ‘evidence’, methods, and underlying assumptions of research in the field, and aim to illuminate the EBP discourse by comparison with approaches from other fields. Much of the research in this area is theoretically naive, focusing primarily on the uptake of research evidence as opposed to evidence defined more broadly, and privileging academics’ research priorities over those of policymakers. Little empirical data analysing the processes or impact of evidence use in policy is available to inform researchers or decision-makers. EBP research often assumes that policymakers do not use evidence and that more evidence – meaning research evidence – use would benefit policymakers and populations. We argue that these assumptions are unsupported, biasing much of EBP research. The agenda of ‘getting evidence into policy’ has side-lined the empirical description and analysis of how research and policy actually interact in vivo. Rather than asking how research evidence can be made more influential, academics should aim to understand what influences and constitutes policy, and produce more critically and theoretically informed studies of decision-making. We question the main assumptions made by EBP researchers, explore the implications of doing so, and propose new directions for EBP research, and health policy.
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              A description of a knowledge broker role implemented as part of a randomized controlled trial evaluating three knowledge translation strategies

              Background A knowledge broker (KB) is a popular knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) strategy emerging in Canada to promote interaction between researchers and end users, as well as to develop capacity for evidence-informed decision making. A KB provides a link between research producers and end users by developing a mutual understanding of goals and cultures, collaborates with end users to identify issues and problems for which solutions are required, and facilitates the identification, access, assessment, interpretation, and translation of research evidence into local policy and practice. Knowledge-brokering can be carried out by individuals, groups and/or organizations, as well as entire countries. In each case, the KB is linked with a group of end users and focuses on promoting the integration of the best available evidence into policy and practice-related decisions. Methods A KB intervention comprised one of three KTE interventions evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. Results KB activities were classified into the following categories: initial and ongoing needs assessments; scanning the horizon; knowledge management; KTE; network development, maintenance, and facilitation; facilitation of individual capacity development in evidence informed decision making; and g) facilitation of and support for organizational change. Conclusion As the KB role developed during this study, central themes that emerged as particularly important included relationship development, ongoing support, customized approaches, and opportunities for individual and organizational capacity development. The novelty of the KB role in public health provides a unique opportunity to assess the need for and reaction to the role and its associated activities. Future research should include studies to evaluate the effectiveness of KBs in different settings and among different health care professionals, and to explore the optimal preparation and training of KBs, as well as the identification of the personality characteristics most closely associated with KB effectiveness. Studies should also seek to better understand which combination of KB activities are associated with optimal evidence-informed decision making outcomes, and whether the combination changes in different settings and among different health care decision makers.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                kathryn.oliver@lshtm.ac.uk
                akothari@uwo.ca
                nicholas.mays@lshtm.ac.uk
                Journal
                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Research Policy and Systems
                BioMed Central (London )
                1478-4505
                28 March 2019
                28 March 2019
                2019
                : 17
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0425 469X, GRID grid.8991.9, Department of Public Health, Environments and Society, Faculty of Public Health Policy, , London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ; London, UK
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8884, GRID grid.39381.30, School of Health Studies, , Western University, ; London, ON Canada
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0425 469X, GRID grid.8991.9, Department of Health Services Research and Policy, Faculty of Public Health Policy, , London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ; London, UK
                Article
                432
                10.1186/s12961-019-0432-3
                6437844
                30922339
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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