Translating evidence into better sexual and reproductive health: how can we assess, improve, and institutionalize research use

Runtime: September 2017 – September 2020
Client: NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development

Project description

Organizations active in the field of sexual and reproductive health generally struggle to effectively translate research evidence into better policies and practices. Over the years there have been several initiatives aimed at overcoming these struggles. One such an initiative is the knowledge translation platform (KTP). Knowledge translation platforms (KTPs) can be seen as networks that actively encourage evidence-informed health-policymaking by organizing (research) priority setting exercises, developing policy briefs, and hosting deliberative dialogues. Several questions about the functioning of KTPs remain unanswered.

Firstly, the activities of KTP appear to result in intentions to act, but it remains unclear how deliberative dialogues and evidence briefs actually increase the likelihood of translation of the knowledge into policies and practices. Secondly, assessments of the ‘use’ of evidence often revert to quantitative ‘impact’ measurements. Such impact assessments generally assume that knowledge is a fixed product that can – relatively easy – be implemented or disseminated. Thence, they disregard the work required to make knowledge usable in local circumstances. We therefore aim to assess how ‘use’ can be conceptualized in terms of contributions to action. Finally, little is known on how to institutionalize KTP. KTP are often initiated by small groups of ‘local champions’, likely to be supported by international organizations and development partners. While this international orientation may help to establish KTP, it also makes them prone to budget shifts and diversion to external priorities. Besides, it could cause KTP to focus less on local institutionalization.

The current project instigated an interdisciplinary consortium that aims to asses, improve, and institutionalize ‘knowledge use’ in sexual and reproductive health. The project aims to unpack the three questions stated above and subsequently reconstruct the answers on these questions into methods and tools that support the translation of research evidence into action.


Roland Bal, Rik Wehrens, Maarten Kok, Robert Borst, Her Excellency Maysoon Al-Zoubi (HPC Jordan), Ali Almetleq (HPC Jordan), Anke van der Kwaak (KIT), Noor Tromp (KIT), Pierre Ongolo-Zogo (CDBPS-H), Moustapha Nsangou (CDBPS-H), Martin Merikwu (University of Calabar), Ekpereonne Esu (University of Calabar), Dachi Arikpo (University of Calabar), Sylvia de Haan (Cochrane International) & Kathelene Weiss (Cochrane International)


October 2018: Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, Liverpool
August 2018: WTMC Summer School, Ravenstein

July 2018: Project meeting, Douala
April 2018: SURe exchange meeting, The Hague
September 2017: Global Evidence Summit, Cape Town


Further information on the project can be found on the project page at ResearchGate.