The Knowledge-To-Action (KTA) Cycle is a visual representation of CIHR's model of knowledge translation. This cycle outlines a two-way exchange of information between researchers and stakeholders who can use the information (e.g. decision makers, practitioners). A brief explanation of the model is presented below. View a more detailed explanation of the model on the CIHR website.
As depicted in the diagram above, the Knowledge-to-Action Cycle has two parts: the Knowledge Creation Funnel (centre) and the Action Cycle (encircling the funnel).
The Knowledge Creation Funnel comprises three phases involved in creating knowledge:
- Knowledge inquiry: involves conducting primary studies (e.g. randomized control trials). The knowledge created from this process is called "first generation knowledge";
- Knowledge synthesis: involves gathering information from numerous published sources (e.g. systematic reviews). The knowledge created from this process is called "second generation knowledge"; and
- Creation of knowledge tools/products: information from the first two phases is used to create tools and products for decision makers (e.g. clinical practice guidelines).
As information goes deeper into the funnel, it becomes more refined -making it more useful for a specific audience.
The three phases may be started solely by a researcher to further the research base. Or in some cases a knowledge user may address a specific knowledge need by working with a researcher to conduct the associated phase.
The Action Cycle describes the process of converting knowledge into useful information for decision making and practice, which in turn enables change in the target audience. The stages of the Action Cycle include:
- Identify knowledge-to-action gaps: identify, review, and select knowledge to address these needs;
- Adapt knowledge to local context: customize knowledge to be useful and appropriate for the setting;
- Assess barriers: consider the barriers (e.g. lack of awareness of the issue, more perceived costs than benefits) and facilitators (e.g. motivated decision makers, recognized need for change) to knowledge use;
- Select, tailor, implement interventions: choosing an intervention that addresses barriers to change in the selected target audience;
- Monitor knowledge use: measure changes in levels of knowledge, behaviours;
- Evaluate outcomes: measure at the structural (e.g. organizational culture), process (e.g. levels of satisfaction), and/or outcome levels (e.g. health/well-being); and
- Sustain knowledge use: modifying or refreshing knowledge to address changing context and barriers; also involves ensuring that structures are in place to support the intervention.