Collaboration Between Researchers and Knowledge Users in Health Technology Assessment: A Qualitative Exploratory Study

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Family Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC, Canada


Collaboration between researchers and knowledge users is increasingly promoted because it could enhance more evidence-based decision-making and practice. These complex relationships differ in form, in the particular goals they are trying to achieve, and in whom they bring together. Although much is understood about why partnerships form, relatively little is known about how collaboration works: how the collaborative process is shaped through the partners’ interactions, especially in the field of health technology assessment (HTA)? This study aims at addressing this gap in the literature in the specific context of HTA.
We used a qualitative descriptive design for this exploratory study. Semi-structured interviews with three researchers and two decision-makers were conducted on the practices related to the collaboration. We also performed document analysis, observation of five team meetings, and informal discussion with the participants. We thematically analyzed data using the structuration theory and a collective impact (CI) framework.
This study showed that three main contextual factors helped shape the collaboration between researchers and knowledge users: the use of concepts related to each field; the use of related expertise; and a lack of clearly defined roles in the project. Previous experiences with the topic of the research project and a partnership based on “a give and take” relationship emerged as factors of success of this collaboration.
By shedding light on the structuration of the collaboration between researchers and knowledge users, our findings open the door to a poorly documented field in the area of HTA, and additional studies that build on these early observations are welcome.


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