Using Complexity to Simplify Knowledge Translation; Comment on “Using Complexity and Network Concepts to Inform Healthcare Knowledge Translation”

Document Type : Commentary


School of Health Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada


Putting health theories, research and knowledge into practice is a challenge referred to as the knowledge-toaction gap. Knowledge translation (KT), and its related concepts of knowledge mobilization, implementation science and research impact, emerged to mitigate this gap. While the social interaction view of KT has gained currency, scholars have not easily made a link between KT and the concept of complexity. Kitson and colleagues suggest we ought to examine the role of complexity in KT processes using defined theories and concepts borrowed from network and complex adaptive systems theory. They further argue that better KT outcomes might be achieved using this new lens. There remain, however, several critical considerations for this sort of theory application to work in the real-world. Complexity and network theory offer explanatory power about the KT problem, but these theories are less helpful for understanding solutions.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 11 October 2017
  • Revise Date: 31 December 2017
  • Accept Date: 29 November 2017
  • First Publish Date: 01 June 2018