Despite interest in knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) in public health, few reports provide an account of knowledge brokerage organisations such as the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP). SCPHRP’s role is to identify public health interventions that equitably address major health priorities, foster collaboration between public health stakeholders, and build capacity for collaborative intervention research.
Four working groups, including members from research, practice, and policy, were formed to address prioritised topics across the life course. Directed by these groups, structured rapid reviews of the published work were undertaken. Various KTE and collaborative activities were used to strategically disseminate the review findings and to engage with stakeholders in implementation of the recommendations. These activities included events such as workshops, seminars and public meetings, and training courses.
SCPHRP commissioned and seed-funded several projects to support intervention development. The pilot studies and review findings contributed to the development of new research across the four topics. The timeliness and extent of convergence with current government priorities and initiatives probably had the greatest effect on policy makers’ receptivity. SCPHRP is working with Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland on several policy relevant projects, including development of an evidence-informed parenting strategy; assessment of alcohol brief interventions; piloting of a measurement instrument to assess early child development at the population level; and obesity management and prevention.
The extent to which SCPHRP has successfully influenced government public health decision making will be known only in the longer term. However, our experiences suggest that successful KTE relies on the identification, development, and facilitation of networks that bridge the divide between scientific research, policy, and practice. These networks should ideally be developed early and involve stakeholders from policy, research, and practice from the outset. Windows of opportunity for engagement with policy makers on public health priorities should be identified and fully exploited.
UK Medical Research Council and Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government.