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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

How can knowledge exchange portals assist in knowledge management for evidence-informed decision making in public health?

Emma Quinn12*, Carmen Huckel-Schneider3, Danielle Campbell4, Holly Seale2 and Andrew J Milat4

Author Affiliations

1 NSW Public Health Officer Training Program, Public Health Workforce and Training, NSW Ministry of Health, Level 7, 73 Miller St, North Sydney 2060, Australia

2 The School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

3 The Sax Institute, Level 2/10 Quay St Haymarket, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

4 Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, Population and Public Health Division, NSW Ministry of Health, 73 Miller St, North Sydney, NSW 2060, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:443  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-443

Published: 12 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Knowledge exchange portals are emerging as web tools that can help facilitate knowledge management in public health. We conducted a review to better understand the nature of these portals and their contribution to knowledge management in public health, with the aim of informing future development of portals in this field.

Methods

A systematic literature search was conducted of the peer-reviewed and grey literature to identify articles that described the design, development or evaluation of Knowledge Exchange Portals KEPs in the public health field. The content of the articles was analysed, interpreted and synthesised in light of the objectives of the review.

Results

The systematic search yielded 2223 articles, of which fifteen were deemed eligible for review, including eight case studies, six evaluation studies and one commentary article. Knowledge exchange portals mainly included design features to support knowledge access and creation, but formative evaluation studies examining user needs suggested collaborative features supporting knowledge exchange would also be useful. Overall web usage statistics revealed increasing use of some of these portals over time; however difficulties remain in retaining users. There is some evidence to suggest that the use of a knowledge exchange portal in combination with tailored and targeted messaging can increase the use of evidence in policy and program decision making at the organisational level.

Conclusions

Knowledge exchange portals can be a platform for providing integrated access to relevant content and resources in one location, for sharing and distributing information and for bringing people together for knowledge exchange. However more performance evaluation studies are needed to determine how they can best support evidence-informed decision making in public health.

Keywords:
Knowledge exchange; Evaluation; Collaboration; Online; Public health; Health policy; Information management