Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Systematic reviews and knowledge translation

Peter Tugwell, Vivian Andrea Robinson, Jeremy Grimshaw, & Nancy Santess

ABSTRACT

Proven effective interventions exist that would enable all countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals. However, uptake and use of these interventions in the poorest populations is at least 50% less than in the richest populations within each country. Also, we have recently shown that community effectiveness of interventions is lower for the poorest populations due to a “staircase” effect of lower coverage/access, worse diagnostic accuracy, less provider compliance and less consumer adherence.

We propose an evidence-based framework for equity-oriented knowledge translation to enhance community effectiveness and health equity. This framework is represented as a cascade of steps to assess and prioritize barriers and thus choose effective knowledge translation interventions that are tailored for relevant audiences (public, patient, practitioner, policy-maker, press and private sector), as well as the evaluation, monitoring and sharing of these strategies.

We have used two examples of effective interventions (insecticide-treated bednets to prevent malaria and childhood immunization) to illustrate how this framework can provide a systematic method for decision-makers to ensure the application of evidence-based knowledge in disadvantaged populations. Future work to empirically validate and evaluate the usefulness of this framework is needed. We invite researchers and implementers to use the cascade for equity-oriented knowledge translation as a guide when planning implementation strategies for proven effective interventions. We also encourage policy-makers and health-care managers to use this framework when deciding how effective interventions can be implemented in their own settings.

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