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Researchers, public health professionals and decision-makers are actively pursuing ways to move research findings into broader use by frontline staff and communities. However, they are faced with a number of difficulties and challenges, which include how to make sense of the diverse and contested definitions and terms,1 2 how to navigate their way through the fragmented literature3 4 and how to identify theories, models and frameworks that might be helpful to them.5 Furthermore, despite the considerable and growing body of knowledge translation (KT) literature, there are few methodologies sufficiently detailed to guide KT approaches facilitating co-creation of evidence in public health.6 This paper consolidates the literature and presents definitions of evidence-related concepts in public health. It also presents an evidence-informed public health (EIPH) conceptual framework to highlight the types of evidence gaps that exist and the need for KT approaches facilitating co-creation of evidence to bridge gaps. This is necessary to provide clarity and an understanding for those aiming to move evidence to influence policies and practice as well as those undertaking research in the field, and at the same time highlight the importance of KT facilitating co-creation of evidence.
Evidence and public health
Research continually produces new findings that can contribute to effective and efficient healthcare.7 However, such research cannot change health outcomes unless healthcare decision-makers adopt findings into healthcare services. Public health, defined as ‘the science and art of promoting and protecting health and well-being, preventing ill-health and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society’,8 influences health outcomes at population level through public health policy and practice.
In the context of public health policy and practice, two types of evidence are used—explicit (or research) evidence and implicit (or tacit) evidence. Explicit evidence comes from ‘articulated theories and empirical observations’ made using systematic processes and scientific methods. …
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