‘Let’s avoid reinventing the wheel’: using IKT to advance knowledge translation of a domestic violence research network

This blog post is based on the Evidence & Policy article, ‘Creating an action plan to advance knowledge translation in a domestic violence research network: a deliberative dialogue‘.

Jacqui Cameron, Cathy Humphreys, Anita Kothari and Kelsey Hegarty

Addressing domestic violence is not like some public health strategies that can be addressed with a straightforward prevention strategy. Although there are well over sixty different models of knowledge translation (KT) in the literature, a recent review of KT found the voices of survivors and diverse populations were often absent in KT examples.

To address this gap, we asked the following two questions of a domestic violence research network:

  • Is there a consensus regarding a coherent knowledge translation framework for a domestic violence research network?
  • What are the key actions that a domestic violence research network could take to enhance knowledge translation?

In our Evidence & Policy article, ‘Creating an action plan to advance knowledge translation in a domestic violence research network: a deliberative dialogue’, we explored these two questions using a method known as deliberative dialogue. Deliberative dialogue is a group process used to blend research evidence with practice-based experience.

The outcome of this study identified four key actions from the deliberative dialogue discussion:

Key Action 1 – Agreement on knowledge translation approach
Key Action 2 – Active promotion of a dedicated leadership within an authorising environment
Key Action 3 – Development of sustainable partnerships through capacity building and collaboration, particularly with survivors
Key Action 4 – Employment of multiple translation strategies applying different kinds of evidence for diverse purposes and emerging populations

The researcher participants in this study agreed that Integrated Knowledge Translation, often referred to as ‘IKT’, was a useful model for the knowledge translation of domestic violence research, as it has been used in similar settings with a strong focus on collaborations with research participants. IKT is an approach to research that applies the principles of knowledge translation to the entire research process (Canadian Institutes of Health Research 2012).

So, rather than reinventing the wheel and developing yet another model of knowledge translation, we adapted the Gagliardi & Dobrow’s (2016) IKT framework to include the key actions identified from this study. The adapted framework promotes implementation of IKT at three levels: the organisational, the professional and the individual. As a result of our study, we have added the specific factors that support optimal implementation for domestic violence (DV) researchers.

A visual representation of this adapted framework is provided below. It includes a focus on leadership, collaboration (especially with survivors of DV), and the skills to adapt and change evidence using several strategies.

Figure 1: IKT capacity framework with DV support factors

Organisational – Dedicated leadership within an authorising environment

As an approach, IKT is built on a premise of shared power and equality, so it is perhaps a contradiction to advocate for dedicated leaderships within an authorising environment. However, the results of this study confirmed that given the complexity of the DV context (related to its definition, its gendered nature, and movements to end DV more broadly), dedicated oversight of the IKT process is needed to navigate the challenges.

Professional – Partnerships and collaboration with survivors through capacity building

A challenge for DV research is the definition of partnerships and collaboration, particularly where there may be power imbalances, for example between researchers and survivors. Using IKT as a foundation will potentially compensate for power imbalances in research partnerships. However, the lack of survivor voices is a considerable gap in the literature more generally.

Individual – Improved engagement with diversity

We found a lack of studies that focused on new and underrepresented populations within DV research. These populations include survivors of domestic and family violence, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and children and young people. Finally, men as perpetrators, fathers and victims are also a new population to emerge from recent DV research. As researchers, there is a need to respond using multiple strategies while being mindful of the diverse and emerging populations.

The critical contribution of this paper is to advance the IKT capacity of domestic violence research networks. The framework proposed by Gagliardi & Dobrow (2016) has been adapted, based on our findings, to include the supporting factors for the knowledge translation of domestic violence research.

The authors thank the Safer Families Centre of Excellence Research Networkfor their time participating in this study.

Jacqui Cameron recently completed her PhD at The University of Melbourne, within the department of Social Work. Her doctoral research included a study on the knowledge translation of domestic violence research with a research network using a realist lens. She now works as a Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Wollongong and is also undertaking a number of domestic violence research projects using a realist research approach.

Cathy Humphreys is Co-Director of the Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence and Professor of Social Work at University of Melbourne. Cathy is also Co-Chair for the Melbourne Alliance to End Violence Against Women and Their Children (MAEVe).

Anita Kothari is Deputy Director of the IKTRN, and Professor in the School of Health Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

Kelsey Hegarty leads the Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence. She also holds the joint Chair in Family Violence Prevention at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Women’s Hospital, and co-chairs the Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence against women and their children (MAEVe).

You can read the original research in Evidence & Policy:

Cameron, J. Humphreys, C. Kothari, A. and Hegarty, K. (2021). Creating an action plan to advance knowledge translation in a domestic violence research network: a deliberative dialogue. Evidence & Policy, DOI: 10.1332/174426421X16106634806152.

Image credit: Photo by Pascale Amez on Unsplash

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested to read:

Translating research about domestic and family violence into practice in Australia: possibilities and prospects

An arts-based knowledge translation (ABKT) planning framework for researchers

Guidance for organisational strategy on knowledge to action from conceptual frameworks and practice

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