Knowledge into Action
Using research evidence to inform clinical care and policymaking
In the past 20 years, evidence based healthcare (EBHC) has earned its place as the dominant paradigm for informing clinical practice and policymaking. But despite a generation of research into ‘implementation science’, the gap between what we know from research evidence and what we do in the clinic, at the bedside and around the policymaking table has remained stubbornly difficult to close.
This module aims to introduce you to implementation science and related interdisciplinary perspectives on the links between research evidence, practice and policy. It has three main messages:
- First, implementation problems are typically complex, messy, unique, idiosyncratic and ‘wicked’ (that is, with no clean solution). Evidence-into-practice frameworks are useful up to a point, but negotiating compromises and ‘muddling through’ may be equally key to your success.
- Second, knowledge takes different forms. Whilst published research knowledge is important, so are the embodied knowledge of the experienced clinician, the local knowledge of the street-level bureaucrat and the socially shared knowledge of communities of practice. Effective strategies for implementing evidence draw on multiple forms of knowledge.
- Third, whilst there are no quick fixes or universal answers, there are nevertheless some important principles that apply at different levels of intervention (individual, group, organisation, system), and implementation gets easier once you know those principles.
Lectures and seminars will cover models and tools for implementing evidence, including the popular ‘knowledge to action’ (KTA) framework (Figure 1). But it will also problematise and critique KTA (and ‘frameworks’ more generally). We will explore, for example, the tensions between explicit and tacit knowledge, the role of values and power struggles in the policymaking process and the complexities of health system change. We will also consider more collaborative (‘co-creation’) approaches to research in which the knowledge-action link might be better expressed as ‘knowledge through action’.
Practical exercises and interdisciplinary group work will help you to apply your learning in a project to improve the use of research evidence in your local workplace setting. It will not, however, give you a quick fix or a magic formula – or take the politics out of policymaking.
The last date for receipt of complete applications is 5pm Friday 3rd May 2019. Regrettably, late applications cannot be accepted.
By the end of this module, we anticipate that students will be able to:
- Understand, apply and evaluate the process of translating knowledge into action within a healthcare system;
- Identify different models and frameworks for studying how research evidence is implemented in clinical practice and give a critical account of their strengths and limitations;
- Discuss why doctors and other clinicians may fail to follow clinical guidelines;
- Explain the interacting contributions of research evidence, values and power struggles in healthcare policymaking;
- Design, monitor and evaluate an intervention to support the implementation of evidence in a particular case study in clinical practice (including identifying and overcoming barriers at individual, team and organisational level and involving service users);
- Produce a written case study of an attempt to implement evidence in a real-world setting.
- How to Implement Evidence-Based Healthcare by Trisha Greenhalgh. Oxford, John Wiley & Sons, 2017.
- Knowledge to Action? Evidence-Based Health Care in Context Edited by Sue Dopson and Louise Fitzgerald ISBN: 978-0-19-920510-3
Comments from previous participants
"This was the best module I have attended so far on the MSc programme. It has helped identify 'the gap' in my ability to transfer knowledge into action and given me some useful strategies and theory to underpin my work."
"This has been a very practical and insightful module to enlighten me about the complexities and intricacies of a very important process of translating evidence into action."
"Excellent application of theoretical concepts to real life problems / situations."
This module is run over an eight week cycle where the first week is spent working on introductory activities using a Virtual Learning Environment, the second week is spent in Oxford for the face to face teaching week (this takes place on the dates advertised), there are then four Post-Oxford activities (delivered through the VLE) which are designed to help you write your assignment. You then have a week of personal study and you will be required to submit your assignment electronically the following week (usually on a Tuesday at 14:00 UK Local Time).
Accommodation is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms have been rated as 4-Star Campus accommodation under the Quality In Tourism scheme, and come with tea- and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi access and Freeview TV. Guests can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme.
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Short Course in Health Sciences: £2285.00
Students enrolled on MSc in Evidence-Based Health Care: £1850.00
Students enrolled on Postgraduate Cert in Health Research: £1850.00
Students enrolled on Postgraduate Dip in Health Research: £1850.00
Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our financial assistance page.
If you are an employee of the University of Oxford and have a valid University staff card you may be eligible to receive a 10% discount on the full stand-alone fee. To take advantage of this offer please submit a scan/photocopy of your staff card along with your application. Your card should be valid for a further six months after attending the course.
Trish Greenhalgh is Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences and a practising GP.
Assessment will be based on submission of a written assignment which should not exceed 4,000 words.
Applicants may take this course for academic credit. The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for this course. Participants attending at least 80% of the taught course and successfully completing assessed assignments are eligible to earn credit equivalent to 20 CATS points which may be counted towards a postgraduate qualification.
Applicants can choose not to take the course for academic credit and will therefore not be eligible to undertake the academic assignment offered to students taking the course for credit. Applicants cannot receive CATS (Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme) points or equivalence. Credit cannot be attributed retrospectively. CATS accreditation is required if you wish for the course to count towards a further qualification in the future.
A Certificate of Completion is issued at the end of the course.
Applicants registered to attend ‘not for credit’ who subsequently wish to register for academic credit and complete the assignment are required to submit additional information, which must be received one calendar month in advance of the course start date. Please contact us for more details.
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This course requires you to complete the application form and submit along with a copy of your CV. If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will also need to complete section two of the reference form and forward it to your referee for completion. Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.
Please ensure you read the guidance notes before completing the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.
To apply for the course you should:
- be a graduate or have successfully completed a professional training course
- have professional work experience in the health service or a health-related field
- be able to combine intensive classroom learning with the application of the principles and practices of evidence-based health care within the work place
- have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration)
- show evidence of the ability to commit time to study and an employer's commitment to make time available to study, complete course work and attend course and university events and modules.
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Sources of funding
Information on financial support