Sexual and reproductive health

Knowledge-to-Action (KTA) Framework

Identification of problems and their articulation into questions that can be answered through known scientific methods lies at the heart of problem-solving in health care. For some problems, the solutions may be already available in existing knowledge sources (published research literature, guidelines, etc.), while for others, new solutions will need to be found through appropriate research.

In the context of health care, experience shows that implementation of research-based knowledge in real life is complex and riddled with barriers. Therefore, available research data need to be synthesized and the resulting knowledge contextualized prior to implementation. Moreover, interventions to introduce evidence-based knowledge in practice may need to be tailored to overcome specific local barriers. Knowledge generation and the implementation of existing and new solutions is an intricate cyclical process that has been summarized by Graham et al. as the "knowledge-to-action" framework (See figure below).

  • GRADE Working Group
    The working group has developed a common, sensible and transparent approach to grading quality of evidence and strength of recommendations.

For the process to run efficiently, it is imperative to remain vigilant to problems at each stage of the knowledge generation, synthesis and exchange process, and to document the problems in reports, discussion forums, clinical logs or research papers, so that they can be identified by researchers and other experts who can develop a solution.

For example, gaps in knowledge can be identified by researchers at the stage of research itself. They can also be identified during the process of knowledge synthesis and guideline development, when the robustness of available knowledge is analysed using evidence-grading systems. Alert programme managers can also identify barriers to implementation of knowledge in their practice environs. The dynamic, continuous integration of these steps in the field of maternal and perinatal health has become an important focus of the WHO/HRP*/RHR Department.


*UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction Department of Reproductive Health and Research (HRP)

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