Dr Andrea WilsonDr. Andrea Wilson of Edith Cowan University and the DCRC – Early Diagnosis and Prevention has completed a literature review of the use of biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.

We will bring you more detailed information when this article is published. However, while we await formal publication, some of the very interesting findings from the research are: to come out of the research are:

  • The use of using CSF biomarkers in AD risk reduction, diagnosis and research is more important than ever.
  • There are risks associated with the collection of CSF. However, it has been found that clinical quality control measures can mitigate these risks.
  • This research has implications for future research and Knowledge Translation (See “What is Knowledge Translation?" below)

What is Knowledge Translation?

Dr Tom White, DCRCs’ Knowledge Translation Specialist.

The DCRCs define knowledge translation (KT) as “Translating Dementia Research into Practice”. This means implementing dementia research into practice, which means, bringing about behaviour change to align with best evidence and, ultimately, best practice.

Seems like a simple enough definition, so why do clinicians and researchers keep asking “What is knowledge translation?” There are two reasons:

1) The work of dementia KT seems much too difficult to achieve across the major sectors, i.e. acute care hospitals, general practice, residential aged care facilities (RACFs), and community care (home care). Due to the degree of difficulty the question keeps being asked in the hopes that someone will define it differently. An example of where this has happened is Canada where knowledge translation is now perceived as putting research into the hands of practitioners. While this has the advantage of being a simpler process than what is required by a conventional definition of KT, it is unlikely to lead to behaviour change.

2) The work of implementing research into practice requires a culture that will support the behaviour change, a culture with strong constructive leadership. These features are often missing across the four sectors mentioned above. Furthermore, project managers implementing the research into practice, where there is a culture to support it, need to have research project implementation experience and expertise (often not available in medicine). So people given the responsibility of implementing KT keep asking - where is the practical answer which will result in success. Unfortunately, too often they look around and cannot see examples of it and naturally wonder what to do.

KT example hand hygiene in hospitals

In the 1800s, research in Europe and North America indicated the importance of hand hygiene in hospitals. This research quickly found its way to Australia. Consequently, effort was put into implementing this research into practice. After over 150 years of effort the outcome is that 50 percent of clinicians in our hospitals do not wash their hands before attending to a patient, even though hospital policy clearly sets forth best practice. Last year newspapers published article after article of the consequences, i.e. patient safety and care jeopardised, often resulting in a continuum of outcomes from additional unnecessary treatment to high patient death rates.

Why? A reasonable mind might ask.
There are many factors that contribute to the failure of implementing critical research into practice in our hospitals. The leading contender is a lack of leadership. Europe, North America and Australia started with a model that appointed the best clinician as the practice leader. It has not mattered if the practice clinician in charge had no leadership competencies.

Why is research not being implemented into hospital practice?
Why? A lack of leadership.
Why? A lack of high performance team cultures.
South Australia Health for three years has been implementing research into hospital practice to address these two issues. With a volunteer mindset and no funding, implementation outcomes indicate that they are on the right track.

Conclusion
Implementing dementia research into practice will require a significant amount time, funding and leadership.

Want to comment, ask questions, or just want more on this topic please contact the Editor of Dementia Research News, Ashley Lamont at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Other stories from Dementia Research News - January 2012

Retaining Nurses in Dementia Care

People Living with Dementia and Pain

Biomarker Review Published/What is Knowledge Translation?

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Understanding Alzheimer's and Other Dementias

DCRC job opportunity: Project Officer