DKT Dissemination & Exchange

“Getting the right information out to the right people, in the right format, and at the right time is vital” (Illes et al., 2011: 261).

To ensure that your dementia research message reaches your target audience(s), many factors need to be considered.  As reviewed in the introductory section, these factors are dependent upon the message or knowledge to be transferred, the target audience(s), the means for relaying the knowledge, the expertise of the knowledge translators, and the desired impacts.

What do we mean by DKT dissemination?

“Sharing research results by identifying the appropriate audience for the research findings and tailoring the message and medium to the audience” (CIHR, 2012)

Dissemination is often thought of as a one-way street for delivering research results to potential users. Worded in another way, dissemination has historically been the public push of discrete research results to an audience. In today’s electronically charged world, however, users of research evidence often want and expect to be involved, and, to reflect and comment on research findings. This will be discussed in further detail in the social media section. Multidirectional communication about dementia is a key factor.

The different media that knowledge translators use to disseminate dementia research can also be used to gain insights into what people think about a particular dementia topic and to find out how it is received once it has been disseminated.

  • Think back for a moment to the time when you chose to pursue a particular problem in the area of dementia. What inspired you? A research article? A lecture or seminar? A blog? A conversation with a colleague, supervisor, caregiver, family member, friend or patient with dementia? A video or television program? Podcast or radio program? These are all examples of modes of dissemination, exchange, and research inspiration!

What do we mean by DKT exchange?

“Knowledge exchange is the mutual sharing of research and data knowledge and/or of practice and experienced based knowledge for the purpose of improving further research and practice” (adapted from Lusk and Harris, 2011).

“Knowledge exchange can take place face-to-face, over the telephone, online in real-time, or it can take place by capturing and sharing stories.  The sharing of evidence via knowledge exchange is an important contributor to the success of knowledge transfer” (Rycroft-Malone J. Theory and knowledge translation: Setting some coordinates. Nurse Res 2007: 56(4 Suppl): S78-85 cited in Lusk and Harris (2011).

Question:  If appropriate, have you considered the involvement of people with dementia or organizations that promote public awareness of dementia to help disseminate your research findings?

Thinking about your audience
What are some things to consider about your target audience?

What are the preferred mediums through which your target audience likes to receive research messages?


  • Academic publications, including peer reviewed publications
  • Arts-based DKT
  • Bulletins and newsletters
  • Care and clinical pathways
  • Case reports
  • Champions
  • Clinical practice guidelines
  • Café scientifique
  • Communities of practice
  • Conferences
  • Educational materials
  • Educational outreach
  • Financial incentive
  • Interactive small group
  • IT decision support
  • Meetings
  • Multi-professional collaboration
  • Networks (existing and /or those developed during the course of your research)
  • Opinion leaders
  • Patent license
  • Patient and carer educational tools (e.g. brochures, workshops, videos)
  • Patient mediated intervention
  • Performance feedback
  • Presentations
  • Press release
  • Print media
  • Professional educational tools
  • Reminders
  • Seminars
  • Systematic reviews
  • Social media
  • Technical reports
  • Television and Radio
  • Town hall Forums
  • Websites

Source: Adapted from Allergen (2009) and Barwick (2011)

There is bound to be more than one medium that would be appropriate for your audience and as previously  indicated, there are many media to choose from, including television (see the CTV (2011) interview with Dr. Kenneth Rockwood for example), radio and public forums (e.g. CIHR’s Café Scientifique).  A multi-pronged approach is likely to be more effective than a singular approach.

Note on appropriateness:

“With all forms of knowledge translation the watchword is appropriateness.  Each discipline, research project, and knowledge user is different.  Sometimes – such as when there are limitations on the validity or generalizability of the results or there are few knowledge users beyond other researchers – a modest approach is the best one.  Just make sure there is a match between the research findings, the knowledge users and the knowledge translation activities” (CIHR, undated).

“The information presented needs to be appropriate to the person’s cognitive ability. An investigation concerning the readability of printed material about dementia for patients and carers found that 25% of brochures were published at unsuitably high levels and 75% used a font size that was too small” ((Weih et al., 2008) in Draper et al., 2009: S74)).

  • View the webinar by Tracy Danylyshen-Laycock below.  This CDRAKE webinar is tailored towards caregivers and is structured around the need for caregivers to employ a person-centred care approach. As part of a person-centred care approach, a different set of communication strategies is required to communicate with people with dementia, especially those who have difficulty verbalizing their thoughts and who may instead be communicating via their behaviours.

    • Are people with dementia part of your target audience?
    • If so, are any of the techniques that have been described in this webinar applicable to your research?

Q&A with an expert

Dr. Julie RobillardPostdoctoral Fellow at the National Core for Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia.  Dr. Julie Robillard conducts work on assessing the effectiveness of communication about health information relating to aging and dementia. 

Q: Do some of the considerations for communicating with dementia patients face-to-face, such as those discussed by Tracy Danylyshen-Laycock in her webinar above, including the use of simple, straightforward language and visual cues also apply to social media?

A: I’m not sure to what extent people with dementia use social media – there is a paucity of data on this, but as a general rule, simple straightforward language, visual cues and large fonts are all desirable when targeting most populations, including older adults.

The rest of this section will be devoted to examining two dissemination and exchange choices in detail: (1) the rapidly growing use of social media, and (2) print media, the traditional format to disseminate information to the wider public and still popular among the older generation and also gaining an online presence.

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