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Open Access ‘Maybe we can turn the tide’: an explanatory mixed-methods study to understand how knowledge brokers mobilise health evidence in low- and middle-income countries

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Background: Little is known about how knowledge brokers (KBs) operate in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to translate evidence for health policy and practice. These intermediaries facilitate relationships between evidence producers and users to address public health issues.
Aims and objectives: To increase understanding, a mixed-methods study collected data from KBs who had acted on evidence from the 2015 Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference in Mexico.
Methods: Of the 1000 in-person participants, 252 plus 72 online participants (n=324) from 56 countries completed an online survey, and 20 participants from 15 countries were interviewed. Thematic analysis and application of knowledge translation (KT) theory explored factors influencing KB actions leading to evidence uptake. Descriptive statistics of respondent characteristics were used for cross-case comparison. Findings: Results suggest factors supporting the KB role in evidence uptake, which include active relationships with evidence users through embedded KB roles, targeted and tailored evidence communication to fit the context, user receptiveness to evidence from a similar country setting, adaptability in the KB role, and action orientation of KBs.
Discussion and conclusions: Initiatives to increase evidence uptake in LMICs should work to establish supportive structures for embedded KT, identify processes for ongoing cross-country learning, and strengthen KBs already showing effectiveness in their roles.

key messages

  1. Little is known about how knowledge brokers mobilise evidence in low- and middle-income countries.

  2. A multi-country study of knowledge brokers identified promising practices for evidence uptake.

  3. Embedded brokers who adapted messaging and evidence to context in active relationships worked well.

  4. Capacity building should use KB promising practices and facilitate multi-country evidence exchange.
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Keywords: evidence-informed decision making; knowledge brokers; knowledge translation; low- and middle-income countries

Affiliations: 1: Baltimore, USA 2: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA 3: Jhpiego/Maternal and Child Survival Program, Washington, DC, USA 4: Ghent University, Belgium

Appeared or available online: October 9, 2019

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