About Knowledge into Action

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What is Knowledge into Action (K2A)

Knowledge into Action is the term used to encompass the combined processes of identifying, retrieving, evaluating, sharing and applying knowledge in a practical context.

Definition: Knowledge into Action is an iterative sequence of activities and support which together bridge the gap between knowledge and practice, by converting knowledge into decisions and actions to deliver safer, more effective care.

You may hear Knowledge into Action referred to as Knowledge Translation, Knowledge Mobilisation, Information Literacy, Evidence Informed Practice, Evidence Based Practice.  All these terms have slightly different meanings but are in essence about helping decisions to be based on the best evidence from research and practice. 

Knowledge into Action Cycle
Knowledge into Action Cycle

Steps explained

Define a knowledge need - What do you need to know? You must ask the right question to get the right answer.

Source and Quality Assure-  Identify and use a range of sources include people as well as written materials. 

Have you found ‘good’ information? Look closely at what your search has recovered to check whether your question has been answered.

Create and Combine- Making use of your results to support implementation of knowledge in practice and policy making.

Share - simple ideas to connect people to share ideas and experience using a range of tools.

Evaluate - Researching and evaluating the impact of K2A approaches helps to build the evidence base for knowledge into action methods, and to identify transferable approaches that can be used in different settings.

Origins of Knowledge into Action

Knowledge into Action has its roots in clinical medicine where the gap between what is known and what is practiced was identified in the Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) movement, which highlighted the need for practitioners to understand and use research in every-day clinical decision making. This led to the creation of the Cochrane Collaboration – a not-for-profit group that conducts systematic reviews of clinical trials for various diseases and provides syntheses of the research evidence, allowing clinicians to be confident of using best evidence for common clinical questions. Although EBM was a much-needed shift in research and practice, it had limited impact, suggesting a fundamental gap between what was known and what was done with relevant knowledge. 

Knowledge into Action aims to build on the foundations laid by Evidence-Based Medicine to deliver greater impact through methods that widen access to knowledge and actively bridge the knowledge-practice gap by enabling the translation of knowledge into practice in all settings not restricted to healthcare.

Knowledge management strategies

Over the years Knowledge Services Group worked with partners to implement a number of strategies 'From Knowing to Doing' (2006-2009), 'Enabling Partnerships: Sharing Knowledge for the Mutual NHS' (2010-2012) and 'Getting Knowledge into Action for Healthcare Quality: Report of strategic review and recommendations' (2012).

To read about the outcome of the implementation plan, see the report Knowledge Into Action in Scotland's Health and Social Services (2016).

For further information contact knowledge@nes.scot.nhs.uk