In the context of the Knowledge Society advent, scientific knowledge is considered as an asset to serve economic and social development purposes through the collaboration between universities and non-academic institutions. In the case of Healthcare, the system can benefit from scientific evidence in order to improve well-being and healthcare services. However, the persistent gap between scientific evidence and its implementation to the practice has been object of a political concern as it potentially leads to a duplication of efforts and a waste of resources (Rowley et al 2012). This challenge is observed by the difficulty to translate basic scientific knowledge into clinical applications (Kitson et al 2018), and by the time required for a patient to benefit from a proven treatment (Graham 2006).
From this perspective, the Knowledge Translation (KT) paradigm emerges as a strategy to close the evidence-practice gap and to ensure that the knowledge produced by researchers meet real-world needs. More recently, the focus was placed on the collaborative arrangements set between researchers and non-academic stakeholders. In this context, the traditional knowledge users (clinical professionals, policymakers, managers and even patients) take a role as co-producers of knowledge in a research partnership, actively participating in all the phases of the research process.
However, it is not clear how these collaborative arrangements are approached, and what are the main factors required for the establishment of a successful partnership. And this is precisely what this paper aims to better understand, contributing to the debate on research partnerships as a strategy to close the gap between science and practice in the Healthcare area.
A systematic literature review is conducted on the studies covering KT arrangements and the co-production of knowledge between academics and stakeholders from the Healthcare system. For this purpose, a search for both the expressions “knowledge translation” and “co-production of knowledge”, combined with “healthcare” in the database Scopus-Elsevier (in order to restrict the analysis to peer-reviewed material) was undertaken. The articles selected focused on the conceptualization of integrated knowledge translation mechanisms and multi-organizational partnerships.
The literature review reveals a number of factors that have been identified as the main enablers and barriers to KT processes. In this regard, the complex nature of research partnership comprising actors with different priorities and from different organizational cultures entails the main barriers to the KT. On the other hand, regular communication and effective leadership contribute to overcoming these challenges. The existence of a Knowledge Brokering infrastructure, able to engage all the participants since the earlier stages, is perceived as crucial for the co-production of relevant knowledge.
Understanding the factors that can hinder or facilitate effective KT processes allows for the planning and implementation of successful partnerships between academic and non-academic actors. Therefore, KT interventions should be designed, anticipating potential barriers, and optimizing the facilitators. Furthermore, this study sheds light on what should be the role of an intermediate infrastructure aiming to optimize knowledge production and its implementation within a partnership in order to improve the healthcare service.