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Open Access Study protocol

An exploratory cluster randomised controlled trial of knowledge translation strategies to support evidence-informed decision-making in local governments (The KT4LG study)

Elizabeth Waters1, Rebecca Armstrong1*, Boyd Swinburn2, Laurence Moore3, Maureen Dobbins4, Laurie Anderson5, Mark Petticrew6, Rachel Clark1, Rebecca Conning1, Marj Moodie7 and Robert Carter7

Author Affiliations

1 Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program, McCaughey Centre: Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Level 5/207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

2 Population Health Strategic Research, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria, Australia

3 Cardiff Institute of Society and Health, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, 1-3 Museum Place, Cardiff, UK

4 School of Nursing, McMaster University, Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

5 Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Olympia, Washington, USA

6 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, Keppel St, London, UK

7 Deakin Health Economics, School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:34  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-34

Published: 13 January 2011

Abstract

Background

Childhood overweight and obesity is the most prevalent and, arguably, politically complex child health problem internationally. Governments, communities and industry have important roles to play, and are increasingly expected to deliver an evidence-informed system-wide prevention program. However, efforts are impeded by a lack of organisational access to and use of research evidence. This study aims to identify feasible, acceptable and ideally, effective knowledge translation (KT) strategies to increase evidence-informed decision-making in local governments, within the context of childhood obesity prevention as a national policy priority.

Methods/Design

This paper describes the methods for KT4LG, a cluster randomised controlled trial which is exploratory in nature, given the limited evidence base and methodological advances. KT4LG aims to examine a program of KT strategies to increase the use of research evidence in informing public health decisions in local governments. KT4LG will also assess the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention. The intervention program comprises a facilitated program of evidence awareness, access to tailored research evidence, critical appraisal skills development, networking and evidence summaries and will be compared to provision of evidence summaries alone in the control program. 28 local governments were randomised to intervention or control, using computer generated numbers, stratified by budget tertile (high, medium or low). Questionnaires will be used to measure impact, costs, and outcomes, and key informant interviews will be used to examine processes, feasibility, and experiences. Policy tracer studies will be included to examine impact of intervention on policies within relevant government policy documents.

Discussion

Knowledge translation intervention studies with a focus on public health and prevention are very few in number. Thus, this study will provide essential data on the experience of program implementation and evaluation of a system-integrated intervention program employed within the local government public health context. Standardised programs of system, organisational and individual KT strategies have not been described or rigorously evaluated. As such, the findings will make a significant contribution to understanding whether a facilitated program of KT strategies hold promise for facilitating evidence-informed public health decision making within complex multisectoral government organisations.

Trial registration

Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12609000953235