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      Applications of social constructivist learning theories in knowledge translation for healthcare professionals: a scoping review


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          Use of theory is essential for advancing the science of knowledge translation (KT) and for increasing the likelihood that KT interventions will be successful in reducing existing research-practice gaps in health care. As a sociological theory of knowledge, social constructivist theory may be useful for informing the design and evaluation of KT interventions. As such, this scoping review explored the extent to which social constructivist theory has been applied in the KT literature for healthcare professionals.


          Searches were conducted in six databases: Ovid MEDLINE (1948 – May 16, 2011), Ovid EMBASE, CINAHL, ERIC, PsycInfo, and AMED. Inclusion criteria were: publications from all health professions, research methodologies, as well as conceptual and theoretical papers related to KT. To be included in the review, key words such as constructivism, social constructivism, or social constructivist theories had to be included within the title or abstract. Papers that discussed the use of social constructivist theories in the context of undergraduate learning in academic settings were excluded from the review. An analytical framework of quantitative (numerical) and thematic analysis was used to examine and combine study findings.


          Of the 514 articles screened, 35 papers published between 1992 and 2011 were deemed eligible and included in the review. This review indicated that use of social constructivist theory in the KT literature was limited and haphazard. The lack of justification for the use of theory continues to represent a shortcoming of the papers reviewed. Potential applications and relevance of social constructivist theory in KT in general and in the specific studies were not made explicit in most papers. For the acquisition, expression and application of knowledge in practice, there was emphasis on how the social constructivist theory supports clinicians in expressing this knowledge in their professional interactions.


          This scoping review was the first to examine use of social constructivism in KT studies. While the links between social constructivism and KT have not been fully explored, the Knowledge to Action framework has strong constructivist underpinnings that can be used in moving forward within the broader KT enterprise.

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          Most cited references46

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          The case for knowledge translation: shortening the journey from evidence to effect.

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            An exploration of the factors that influence the implementation of evidence into practice.

            The challenges of implementing evidence-based practice are complex and varied. Against this background a framework has been developed to represent the multiple factors that may influence the implementation of evidence into practice. It is proposed that successful implementation is dependent upon the nature of the evidence being used, the quality of context, and, the type of facilitation required to enable the change process. This study sets out to scrutinize the elements of the framework through empirical enquiry. The aim of the study was to address the following questions: * What factors do practitioners identify as the most important in enabling implementation of evidence into practice? * What are the factors practitioners identify that mediate the implementation of evidence into practice? * Do the concepts of evidence, context and facilitation constitute the key elements of a framework for getting evidence into practice? The study was conducted in two phases. Phase 1: Exploratory focus groups (n = 2) were conducted to inform the development of an interview guide. This was used with individual key informants in case study sites. Phase 2: Two sites with on-going or recent implementation projects were studied. Within sites semi-structured interviews were conducted (n = 17). A number of key issues in relation to the implementation of evidence into practice emerged including: the nature and role of evidence, relevance and fit with organizational and practice issues, multi-professional relationships and collaboration, role of the project lead and resources. The results are discussed with reference to the wider literature and in relation to the on-going development of the framework. Crucially the growing body of evidence reveals that a focus on individual approaches to implementing evidence-based practice, such as skilling-up practitioners to appraise research evidence, will be ineffective by themselves. Key elements that require attention in implementing evidence into practice are presented and may provide a useful checklist for future implementation and evaluation projects.
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              A cross-sectional study of the number and frequency of terms used to refer to knowledge translation in a body of health literature in 2006: a Tower of Babel?

              Background The study of implementing research findings into practice is rapidly growing and has acquired many competing names (e.g., dissemination, uptake, utilization, translation) and contributing disciplines. The use of multiple terms across disciplines pose barriers to communication and progress for applying research findings. We sought to establish an inventory of terms describing this field and how often authors use them in a collection of health literature published in 2006. Methods We refer to this field as knowledge translation (KT). Terms describing aspects of KT and their definitions were collected from literature, the internet, reports, textbooks, and contact with experts. We compiled a database of KT and other articles by reading 12 healthcare journals representing multiple disciplines. All articles published in these journals in 2006 were categorized as being KT or not. The KT articles (all KT) were further categorized, if possible, for whether they described KT projects or implementations (KT application articles), or presented the theoretical basis, models, tools, methods, or techniques of KT (KT theory articles). Accuracy was checked using duplicate reading. Custom designed software determined how often KT terms were used in the titles and abstracts of articles categorized as being KT. Results A total of 2,603 articles were assessed, and 581 were identified as KT articles. Of these, 201 described KT applications, and 153 included KT theory. Of the 100 KT terms collected, 46 were used by the authors in the titles or abstracts of articles categorized as being KT. For all 581 KT articles, eight terms or term variations used by authors were highly discriminating for separating KT and non-KT articles (p < 0.001): implementation, adoption, quality improvement, dissemination, complex intervention (with multiple endings), implementation (within three words of) research, and complex intervention. More KT terms were associated with KT application articles (n = 13) and KT theory articles (n = 18). Conclusions We collected 100 terms describing KT research. Authors used 46 of them in titles and abstracts of KT articles. Of these, approximately half discriminated between KT and non-KT articles. Thus, the need for consolidation and consistent use of fewer terms related to KT research is evident.

                Author and article information

                Implement Sci
                Implement Sci
                Implementation Science : IS
                BioMed Central
                6 May 2014
                : 9
                : 54
                [1 ]School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
                [2 ]Centre for Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Research of Greater Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
                [3 ]Centre for Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
                [4 ]Life Sciences Library, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada
                Copyright © 2014 Thomas et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

                : 14 July 2013
                : 1 May 2014
                Systematic Review



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