Focus Area 4: Knowledge Dissemination and Public Outreach

Dissemination of knowledge, which is a component of knowledge translation, focuses on communicating information about research results by tailoring the message to a particular target audience. As part of the Framework, CIHR is encouraging researchers and CIHR staff to involve citizens in the design of knowledge dissemination plans. CIHR’s Knowledge Translation Branch has developed a wealth of information and has compiled resources to provide researchers and citizens with valuable information about how to work together.

CIHR has also initiated a number of public outreach efforts to communicate the benefits of health research to Canadians and ultimately improve their health. The Communications & Public Outreach Branch, in particular, has developed a wide variety of tools to enhance CIHR’s ability to reach Canadians. For example, the Café Scientifique program brings researchers together with a variety of citizens, including representatives of the voluntary health sector, the media, parliamentarians, youth, and the general public. At these events, citizens are able to ask questions and hear about the latest scientific research on a chosen topic.

An example of a Café Scientifique on Community-Based Research and Citizen Engagement took place on March 23, 2010 in Ottawa. CIHR's Institute of Population and Public Health (CIHR-IPPH) and Partnerships and Citizen Engagement (PCE) Branch hosted it; the focus was the importance of engaging citizens and communities in health research.

In addition, the CE Framework highlights several public and educational outreach activities developed by the Institutes. These activities have included public lectures on emerging research and collaborations to develop museum exhibits. Several Institutes have also developed ongoing collaborative processes to engage the voluntary health sector in the design of outreach efforts, as voluntary health organizations play a key role in helping CIHR communicate research results in ways that are meaningful to the public.

At CIHR, the Synapse – Youth Connection Program serves as an excellent example of how to include stakeholder expertise in the development of new programs. To establish Synapse, CIHR relied heavily on the expertise and advice of representatives from the youth science and engagement sector. Their input helped design a program that has, to date, reached over 100,000 Canadian youth. For more information, see the Synapse – Youth Connection Program case study.