Knowledge exchange in the face of complexity

Researchers are increasingly under pressure not simply to generate new knowledge about the best ways to address public health concerns but also to ensure that such knowledge is translated into policy and practice. Knowledge translation strategies have evolved from the very simplistic to more sophisticated methods, but still predominantly, the concern of much implementation research is how to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in one direction … from research into practice. But insights from systems thinking and complexity science point to the benefits of reversing this thinking and looking more at the patterns that emerge from variations in practice. In this seminar, I want to draw on past experience as the Director of a research centre established to sit between policy, practice and research as the Victorian Department of Health strove to establish a prevention system, in order to reflect on the challenges this way of working poses.

Alan Shiell is currently Professor of Health Economics at La Trobe University, and Director of the University’s Building Healthy Communities Research Focus Area. Prior to this he was the founding Director of the Centre of Excellence in Intervention and Prevention Science, established by the Victorian Department of Health to work with it to develop and evaluate plans to establish a prevention system in Victoria.