The Knowledge to Action Cycle

The Knowledge to Action (KTA) framework, proposed by Graham et al. (2006), is the framework commonly employed by the CIHR for the transfer of research findings into practice, and can be broken down into two concepts:  knowledge creation and the action cycle. In practice, the two concepts are fluid and do not always occur exclusive of each other.

CIHR Knowledge to Action Cycle


(Source: Graham et al., 2006)

Knowledge Creation:

Knowledge Creation is represented in the diagram by the central funnel.  Knowledge becomes more refined as it moves through the funnel.  These refinements include the steps of inquiry (e.g. primary research), synthesis (e.g. systematic review) and creation of tools or products (e.g. guidelines, decision-making tools).

The Action Cycle:

The Action Cycle is the implementation of the knowledge. There are several steps in the Action Cycle, all of which may inform each other. The steps are as follows:

  1. Identify the problem as well as the knowledge needed to address this (as well as addressing the usefulness and validity of the knowledge).
  2. Adapt the knowledge to the local context by assessing its worth and utility to the setting for which you intend it.
  3. Assess barriers and facilitators related to the knowledge to be adopted, the potential adopters, and the context in which the knowledge will be used.
  4. Develop and execute your KT plan and any strategies to promote awareness and use of the knowledge.
  5. Monitor knowledge use to determine whether your plan was effective, and implement any changes that this monitoring may indicate is necessary.  This is also the time to consider reassessing your barriers and facilitators if uptake or use has been low.
  6. Evaluate the impact of the knowledge use to determine if you have achieved the desired outcomes, as well as the success of the KT plan itself.
  7. Sustain the use of the knowledge over time. Challenges to ongoing use of the knowledge may be very different than the challenges during implementation. Consideration needs to be given to sustaining the use of the knowledge.

As always, involvement with your target audience to understand how/if they can use the knowledge, and the context within which they will use it is very important to the success of any plan.

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