CIHR Knowledge Translation e-Newsletter – May 2012

In this issue:

  1. Knowledge to Action: Profiles from the Community
  2. News from Ian Graham, Vice-President, CIHR
  3. KT Funding News
  4. KT Learning Resources and Opportunities
  5. KT Events
  6. KT Community News

1. Knowledge to Action: Profiles from the Community

Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI): Improving the quality of long-term care

By 2026, more than one Canadian in five will reach the age of 65, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. As our population ages, long-term care is becoming an increasingly important part of our health system. Because long-term care falls outside the boundaries of the Canada Health Act, each province is responsible for setting its own long-term care policies, funding levels and quality benchmarks. And, insofar as public and media attention turns to long-term care, it usually focuses on issues such as poor-quality care, violence in nursing homes, funding inadequacies and infractions of provincial regulations. The reality is, however, that we know little about the quality of care in long-term care facilities.

Dr. Walter Wodchis and Tim Burns wanted to know what factors affect quality of care in Ontario's long-term care homes and what can be done at the micro (home) and macro (policy) level to improve quality. The two Primary Investigators benefitted from a PHSI grant from 2007 to 2010, allowing them to work with major stakeholders in the long-term care field, including the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services and Seniors and the Seniors Health Research Transfer Network (SHRTN).

Quality of care is largely dependent on the quality and effectiveness of the staff delivering care, Dr. Wodchis noted.

Quality happens at the bedside with the direct interaction between staff and residents," he says.

To improve quality, Dr. Wodchis reasoned, the team had to understand what homes are doing to support their staff and which activities are associated with better staff outcomes. To accomplish this, the team conducted surveys of the more-than-600 long-term care homes in the province and all staff in a subset of homes. By surveying both home administrators and staff, Dr. Wodchis and his team were able to find out about both facility-level organizational supports and activities (e.g., the culture of the home, human resource and training policies, staff retention and career development opportunities) and staff members' perspectives on things like job satisfaction, support from their facility and supervisors, and intent to turnover. Having both of these sources of information allowed the team to gain valuable insight into the factors that are associated with the best staffing outcomes and quality of long-term care.

The decision-maker partners met regularly to provide ongoing guidance for the project development, survey questions and dissemination strategies, and have facilitated access to key contacts. The involvement of these organizations sent an important message to Ontario's long-term care homes – that this research study was important and worth participating in.

Dr. Wodchis believes this is why the team had such a high response rate to the survey. Another benefit of having decision-maker partners at the table, he says was that the team had timely access to data that normally could take months (and sometimes years) to obtain.

Dr. Wodchis believes that having decision makers involved was also critical to ensuring that the research would be relevant to policy concerns and the issues that decision makers and long-term care facilities face.

I don't spend my time in long-term care homes," the associate professor says. I don't manage them. I don't regulate them. The partners do. My expertise is in science and how to conduct research. The decision makers have brought the operational, political, and social context that we need to make this research operate in reality."

The partners believe that they benefited from their involvement in the project as well. Tim Burns, for instance, believes that his involvement in the project on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care signaled the regulator's commitment to the issue and to the quality-improvement strategies that emerged from the study.

Larry Chambers, Co-Chair of the SHRTN Board of Directors, referred to the PHSI partnership model of research as the enlightened approach." For Tim Burns, I can't say enough about what this type of research does for the health-care system."

This study is seminal," Burns adds. It has the potential to create groundbreaking cultural change within the long-term care sector."

Margaret Ringland, former Director of Member Relations and Professional Services at the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors, says that the long-term care sector is understudied and misunderstood, and she hopes that the research can be used to inform homes and facilities about their performance relative to others and provide practical data to help homes, the public, policy makers and the media understand both the strengths and weaknesses of our current system.

The PHSI teams research will help long-term care facilities understand what they can do to support their staff in order to provide a high quality care environment. At the macro-level, the team's findings will help shift the long-term care culture away from micro-regulation towards ongoing quality-improvement.

Principal Investigators: Tim Burns (Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) and Walter P. Wodchis (University of Toronto)
Co-investigators: Whitney Berta, Larry Chambers, Katherine McGilton, Margaret Ringland, Krista Robinson-Holt, Fredrika Scarth, Ann Tourangeau
University Partner: University of Toronto
Decision-making Partner: Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, Ontario Long-Term Care Association, Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors, Seniors Health Research Transfer Network

More information

2. News from Ian Graham, Vice-President, CIHR

Dear colleagues,

It is with mixed feelings that I am leaving my position of Vice President of the Knowledge Translation and Public Outreach Portfolio to return to my academic position at the University of Ottawa.  I came to CIHR because of my passion for knowledge translation - and I believed that I could have a significant impact on some parts of the KT field through the opportunity to work at our federal health research funding agency.  During the course of my  nearly six years at CIHR, I have had the chance to meet and work with many of you and have been impressed with the number of  bright people here who are truly invested in achieving and operationalizing CIHR's complete mandate. It was my goal when I joined CIHR to try to influence how knowledge translation is thought of and funded in Canada and, because of the help, enthusiasm and intellect of many of my CIHR and research colleagues, I believe we have been able to achieve this. Now is a time of great change and uncertainty and moving forward CIHR's intent is to better integrate KT into all aspects of CIHR. I hope that we all continue to promote the importance and value of KT and to do KT and integrated KT so that we may reap all the health and socio-economic benefits of health research.

Thank you for the support you have provided me and for KT at CIHR. My university email address is

3. KT Funding News

a) Science Policy Fellowships Program

Here is your chance to learn about and have an impact in the policy world. Contribute to bringing evidence to inform health policy. Understand how evidence informed decision making works. We are offering fellowships for "embedded" researchers in the policy world.

This exciting Funding Opportunity was launched for the third time on April 4, 2012 with a new series of policy assignments. This program provides highly qualified candidates at the doctoral, post-doctoral, new investigator and mid-senior investigator stages of health research with the opportunity to learn more about current health policy activities and the science/policy interface.

The CIHR KT Branch has partnered with the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research in collaboration with the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies as well as with the Health Canada Strategic Policy Branch to help foster positive exchanges between health researchers and policy makers. The program aims to help bridge the gap between the worlds of science and policy making by providing funding for researchers to undertake fellowships at Health Canada and at the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Support will be provided through short-term policy assignments for highly qualified individuals who are engaged in health research to participate in and contribute to the policy making processes while learning first-hand about the intersection of science and policy.

Application deadline: June 4, 2012
Funding start date: October 1, 2012

For more information on this funding opportunity, please view our promotional video on the CIHR YouTube channel and/or contact Jasmine Lefebvre, Senior Knowledge Translation Specialist at 613-952-8965 or by e-mail at

b) CIHR: Evidence-Informed Healthcare Renewal (EIHR) funding opportunity – Healthcare Renewal Policy Analysis grants

CIHR has launched an exciting new funding opportunity called Healthcare Renewal Policy Analysis.  This is a joint program developed by CIHR IHSPR and the Knowledge Translation Branch as part of CIHR’s Roadmap Signature Initiative in Evidence-Informed Healthcare Renewal (EIHR).

Healthcare Renewal Policy Analysis grants depend on meaningful partnerships between researchers and senior-level policy makers who work directly within the health sector in federal, provincial or territorial government departments, regional health authorities, or LHINs as well as those who work in other sectors (e.g., education, social services, industry) that develop policy with population-level health impacts.

These grants will support the generation of high-quality policy analyses that identify evidence-informed policy options for healthcare renewal in Canada in the EIHR priority areas of healthcare financing and funding, health system sustainability, and governance and accountability. Innovation in these areas will require contributions from a wide range of disciplines and would greatly benefit from contributions from economics, political science, sociology, philosophy, law, and other relevant fields.

This initiative is launched in partnership with:

  • European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
  • CIHR – Institute of Aging
  • CIHR – Institute of Health Services and Policy Research
  • CIHR – Institute of Human Development, Child, and Youth Health
  • CIHR – Institute of Infection and Immunity
  • CIHR – Institute of Population and Public Health

CIHR is dedicated to working in collaboration with policy maker partners and researchers to enable opportunities for knowledge exchange and to improve health system performance.

To learn more about this funding opportunity or the EIHR initiative, including current and upcoming funding opportunities and priority research areas, please visit the Evidence Informed Healthcare Renewal page or email

c) Planning Grants (Spring 2012)

The KT Branch will provide support for planning activities, partnership development and/or increasing understanding of the health research landscape that will contribute to the advancement of research consistent with the mandate of CIHR. 

Planning Grants - Priority Announcements offer additional sources of funding for highly rated applications that are relevant to specific CIHR research priority areas or mandates.

Maximum amount per grant: $25,000 for up to one year
Application deadline: June 15, 2012
Funding start date: November 1, 2012
Contact: or 613-954-1944

d) Dissemination Events (Spring 2012)

The KT Branch will provide support to dissemination events/activities (e.g. meetings, workshops, symposia, etc.) that focus on the communication of health research evidence to the appropriate researcher and/or knowledge user audience(s), tailoring the message and medium as appropriate.

Dissemination Events - Priority Announcements offer additional sources of funding for highly rated applications that are relevant to specific CIHR research priority areas or mandates.

Maximum amount per grant: $25,000 for up to one year
Application deadline: June 15, 2012
Funding start date: November 1, 2012
Contact: or 613-954-1944

4. KT Learning Resources and Opportunities

a) The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Guide to Writing Letters of Support

The objective of this document is to provide guidelines for what effective letters of support should look like.

b) Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Comprehensive Systematic Review Training Workshop

July 9-13, 2012, Queen's University

c) Queen's University announces NEW Master of Healthcare Quality (MSc)

Queen's University is pleased to announce the Master of Healthcare Quality (MSc) , a brand new, exciting program which is the first of its kind, specializing in linking theory and practice in quality, risk, and safety in healthcare.

d) A Guide to Knowledge Synthesis

The purpose of this module is to discuss the rationale for knowledge syntheses, outline current approaches and methods for syntheses, and highlight available resources to aid potential applicants.

e) KT Canada Course - Knowledge Translation Basics


Health care systems worldwide are faced with the challenge of improving the quality of care and decreasing the risk of adverse events.  The finding that providing evidence from clinical research is necessary but not sufficient for the provision of optimal care has created interest in knowledge translation (KT), the scientific study of methods for closing the knowledge-to-practice gap and of the barriers and facilitators inherent in this process.  Policy makers, funding agencies, clinicians, and researchers have recognized the need for facilitating the implementation of knowledge into practice.  Where evidence is implemented both improvements in cost and outcomes are seen. For example US research into treating and preventing AIDS has cost $30 billion. Without this research more than 50% of hospital beds would be filled with AIDS patients at a cost of $1.4 trillion—for every $1 spent in research on AIDS, $50 are saved in treatment costs. In addition, without the application of research into cardiovascular disease done from 1982 until present, costs to treat these patients would be 35% higher. Improving and speeding KT reaps benefits for all participants in the healthcare world.

While there has been an exponential growth in the interest in knowledge translation, to date there is limited capacity in the field.  This course will serve as a "primer" on knowledge translation for those interested in the field in order to enhance capacity and to facilitate implementation of KT initiatives.  It is aimed at people who want to learn the basics of 'doing KT'.

This two day course will focus on specific objectives and will include a mixture of didactic and interactive learning and lead to the completion of a project proposal. The course will use the Knowledge to Action Cycle as a framework.

How will I benefit from this course?

This course will provide you with the understanding and tools to increase the impact of your knowledge translation (KT) activities.

The purpose of this course is to:

  • Learn the basics of putting knowledge into action
  • Apply the basics of knowledge translation to a project relevant to your own setting
  • Build capacity in the practice of knowledge translation

Skills support (methodology, evaluation, needs assessments etc) will be available to participants as they complete their project plans. Facilitators include Sharon Straus, Director of the KT Program, and Onil Bhattacharyya, Clinical Scientist, of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael's Hospital. 

Course Details

Course Date: July 5-6, 2012, (Begins 8:30 am July 5 and ends 4:00 pm July 6)

Course Location: Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Rm 240-241, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, ON

Course fee: $600/person

Application deadline: May 15, 2012

Who can apply?

  • This short-course is open to researchers in any of the CIHR pillars. 
  • Participants should register as a partnered team (i.e. bring a buddy).  The team should consist of decision makers and/or anticipated end-users of the knowledge from relevant clinical departments or other stakeholder/partnership group.

How do I apply?

  1. Please submit your name and the name(s) of your partner/collaborator/co-investigator
  2. Briefly describe the identified health care challenge with an explanation of the relevance including a description of the disease burden for example. This should not be more than 1 paragraph in length.
  3. Briefly describe the type of knowledge that will be translated including whether there is good evidence comprising this knowledge (e.g. there is good evidence from trials showing that delirium prevention strategies are effective on inpatient medicine units)

For more information and to apply:

Please contact Gail Klein by email or telephone 416-864-6060 x 77526

Please note that links to external websites in the CIHR-KT Newsletter do not imply an endorsement by CIHR of the views, information or products provided or held by such websites.

5. KT Events

KT: Heart of the Innovation Journey

The Health Research Transfer Network of Alberta (RTNA) is holding its 2012 conference, entitled KT: Heart of the Innovation Journey, in Banff from October 10 to 12, 2012. The conference will explore the key ingredients for using evidence to help inform decisions. Abstracts on projects or research on any aspect of knowledge translation are welcome. The deadline for submissions is May 15.

6. Community News

a) Uncovering the Benefits of Participatory Research: Implications of a Realist Review for Health Research and Practice

b) Renewal of MOU between Agencies and Institutions

Since 2001, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (the Agencies) have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Roles and Responsibilities in the Management of Federal Grants and Awards (“MOU”) with each of more than 250 institutions. The MOU sets out the basic requirements for an institution to obtain and maintain eligibility to administer grant and award funds from the Agencies. The current MOU was signed in 2007, with a commitment to review it after five years.

Drawing on the experience of the past five years, the Agencies have worked to simplify and streamline the current MOU. Consultations on the draft agreement, renamed the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions, will take place over the next two months.

CIHR employees who receive inquiries about the consultation process or the new agreement are asked to forward them to

If you would like to advertise your event or activity in this e-newsletter, please contact