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Introducing research briefs!

Knowledge Translation

By: ePAC Research Team

Knowledge translation is about ensuring that what we learn in research is useable for the people, communities, and systems most affected by the issues we’re studying. Knowledge translation is increasingly viewed as something that should happen throughout the research process rather than just when research is finished. Yet, research budgets rarely reflect the money, time, and expertise needed to make research accessible and applicable in the real world.

Being real about how the research we’re doing is understood, shared, taken up (or not) by the communities and systems we work with is another layer of analysis that takes time and energy. It takes engagement with our communities and interrogation of the work we’ve done. Despite the fact that we use collaborative, community-based and participatory methods in our research, our rush to finalize projects and produce deliverables can mean that this important step of “now what?” often falls by the wayside.

Academic articles lend credibility to researchers, but the work is often hidden behind paywalls in online journals. If researchers pay $2000-4000 then we can make our articles ‘open access’ and available to people who have internet access and a screen to read them on, or a printer to get a physical copy. Even then, the language and length of academic articles means that many people who might take interest in the research will never know about it. While academic critique is commonplace, inaccessible articles means that academics are often shielded from community critique, which strengthens our work and holds us accountable.

In 2020, we published an article about the experiences of inner-city workers in the care of people with serious illnesses, some of who were at the end of their lives. This article stemmed from taking another look (i.e., secondary analysis) at data we had collected from 2014-2017 exploring the end-of-life experiences of people facing poverty, homelessness, racialization, isolation, and stigma. We found that workers often feel distressed and responsible when things don’t go well and when people die unjust deaths. We identified three main challenges faced by workers: (1) workers feel unprepared to care for their clients who are dying; (2) Workplace rules and policies can be barriers to caring for people at the EOL; (3) Workers do not always feel supported or recognized for the important work they do.

The findings reported in this article set the foundation for engagement with inner-city workers in a participatory action research project that began in 2017. After two years of working with a group of workers, we are currently in the process of creating a toolkit about the intersections of palliative care and inner-city work. While findings from this article were shared in an academic journal, social media, and presentations, our team started thinking more about how we could create processes for getting our work out beyond publications as a regular and ongoing process.

Access the research brief here

Research briefs are not new. We’ve been inspired by other research programs that prioritize knowledge translation by turning their research into blogs, videos, and podcasts. In creating our first research brief, we were challenged to simplify messages while maintaining the complex, nuanced, human experience we witnessed in our research. However, we are increasingly seeing the value of asking ourselves and the people we work with, “why does this matter more broadly? Beyond this one situation? Beyond this one organization? Beyond this city?”

We hope you enjoy this brief and look forward to your feedback!

Access the original article here


Stajduhar, K. I., Giesbrecht, M., Mollison, A. & d’Archangelo, M. (2020). “Everybody in this community is at risk of dying”: An ethnographic exploration on the potential of integrating a palliative approach to care among workers in inner-city settings. Palliative and Supportive Care, 1–6.

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