Making your research accessible

K4Health Research Utilization Toolkit: Top 8 Resources

By 20 March 2015

Trinity Zan is a member of FHI 360’s Research Utilization (RU) team. She has put together a useful list of ‘top’ resources taken from the new K4Health Research Utilisation Toolkit.

This post originally appeared on the K4Health Blog

Research to practice. Evidence to action. Research uptake. Evidence-informed policy. Is your head spinning as much as mine? Those of us working in international public health have probably noticed an increasingly common mandate from donors and others to ensure that our programs are evidence-based and that our research produces usable (“actionable”) results. But this is easier said than done — especially when it’s not that easily said!

I have personally spent many frustrating hours sifting through Google searches and scanning websites in search of tips and tools to help accelerate the use of evidence in programs and policies. But with no agreed-upon term to represent this idea, (one study found 29 different terms to refer to it!), it can be difficult to find helpful resources.

So, although I agree with those who warn that online repositories are not always a saving grace, I think one was actually needed in our case. That is why I worked with my colleagues to develop, and recently update, the K4Health Research Utilization Toolkit. My vision was to create a space where international public health researchers, program implementers, and decision makers could find evidence-based information and tools to address their research utilization interests and needs — no matter what term they may use for it!

I invite everyone to come and check out the Toolkit. And to whet your appetite, I’m highlighting my Top 8 Resources (in no particular order) from throughout the Toolkit. Think of it as a whirlwind tour!

#1. For those of you who really want the back story — and the evidence — on why research utilization can be so difficult, this systematic review of barriers to and facilitators of the use of evidence by policymakers is a great summary!

#2. If you’re a framework kind of person, then I recommend this Knowledge to Action Framework from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We frequently use it at FHI 360 to help visualize and explain the space between research and implementation, where a lot of research utilization occurs.

#3-5. For the researchers out there, I have a few documents and tools for you!

To get you started, ExpandNet has compiled 12 recommendations for incorporating scale-up into your study design in a brief document entitled “Beginning with the End in Mind.”

You can then use this Research Utilization Planning Tool, developed by FHI 360, to concretely apply those concepts to your study process.

And as you hone in on your plans for dissemination and advocacy, this Policy Impact Toolkit and its accompanying Policy Influence Plan may prove extremely helpful.

#6-8: For program implementers and decision makers, the Toolkit has much to offer you, too. If you are occasionally lost in the research jargon, “What Researchers Mean by…” may be just what you need.

Once you have a handle on the terms, you can use this self-assessment tool to evaluate whether you and your organization are using research to improve your work and to make recommendations for improvement.

If your self-assessment indicates you have additional research needs, “How to Be a Good Research Partner” will prepare you to be a productive member of a collaborative research team.

I hope that I have sufficiently piqued your interest. Please take some time to explore the Toolkit, share it widely and send along any recommendations for documents or tools that you would like to see featured.