Knowledge translation tools for parents on child health topics: a scoping review.

BMC Health Serv Res 2017 Sep 29;17(1):686. Epub 2017 Sep 29.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, 4-472 Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, 11405 87 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, T6G 1C9, Canada.

Background: An emerging field of knowledge translation (KT) research has begun to focus on health consumers, particularly in child health. KT tools provide health consumers with research knowledge to inform health decision-making and may foster 'effective consumers'. Thus, the purpose of this scoping review was to describe the state of the field of previously published effectiveness research on child health-related KT tools for parents/caregivers to understand the evidence-base, identify gaps, and guide future research efforts.

Methods: A health research librarian developed and implemented search strategies in 8 databases. One reviewer conducted screening using pre-determined criteria. A second reviewer verified 10% of screening decisions. Data extraction was performed by one reviewer. A descriptive analysis was conducted and included patient-important outcome classification, WIDER Recommendation checklist, and methodological quality assessment.

Results: Seven thousand nine hundred fifty two independent titles and abstracts were reviewed, 2267 full-text studies were retrieved and reviewed, and 18 articles were included in the final data set. A variety of KT tools, including single- (n = 10) and multi-component tools (n = 10), were evaluated spanning acute (n = 4), chronic (n = 5) and public/population health (n = 9) child health topics. Study designs included: cross-sectional (n = 4), before-after (n = 1), controlled before-after (n = 2), cohort (n = 1), and RCTs (n = 10). The KT tools were evaluated via single primary outcome category (n = 11) and multiple primary outcome categories (n = 7). Two studies demonstrated significant positive effects on primary outcome categories; the remaining studies demonstrated mixed effects (n = 9) and no effect (n = 3). Overall, methodological quality was poor; studies lacked a priori protocols (n = 18) and sample size calculations (n = 13). Overall, intervention reporting was also poor; KT tools lacked description of theoretical underpinnings (n = 14), end-user engagement (n = 13), and preliminary research (n = 9) to inform the current effectiveness evaluation.

Conclusions: A number of child health-related knowledge translation tools have been developed for parents/caregivers. However, numerous outcomes were used to assess impact and there is limited evidence demonstrating their effectiveness. Moreover, the methodological rigor and reporting of effectiveness studies is limited. Careful tool development involving end-users and preliminary research, including usability testing and mixed methods, prior to large-scale studies may be important to advance the science of KT for health consumers.

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