The Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) Bridge Process: An Integrated Knowledge Translation Approach to Address Priority Health Issues and Increase Collaborative Research in Nova Scotia, Canada

Document Type : Original Article


1 Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit, Research and Innovation, Nova Scotia Health, Halifax, NS, Canada

2 Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Halifax, NS, Canada

3 Department of Community Health & Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada


There is evidence of the benefits of integrated knowledge translation (IKT), yet there is limited research outlining the purpose of a knowledge broker (KB) within this approach. The Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) acts as a KB to support patient-oriented research across the Maritime provinces in Canada. The “Bridge Process” was developed by the Nova Scotia (NS) site as a strategy that involves work leading up to and following the Bridge Event. The process supports research addressing priority health topics discussed at the event by stakeholder groups. The objectives of this paper were to (1) describe the outputs/outcomes of this IKT approach; and (2) examine the role of the KB.

Quantitative data were collected from registration and evaluation surveys. Outputs are described with descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were collected through evaluation surveys and internal documents. Data related to KB tasks were categorized into three domains: (1) Knowledge Manager, (2) Linkage and Exchange Agent and (3) Capacity Developer.

The Bridge Process was implemented four times. A total of 314 participants including government, health, patient/citizen, community, and research personnel attended the events. We identified 24 priority topics, with 7 led by teams receiving support to complete related projects. Participants reported improved understanding of the research gaps and policy needs and engaged with individuals they would not have otherwise. Although patients/citizens attended each Bridge Event, only 61% of participants who completed an evaluation survey indicated that they were ‘actively engaged in group discussion.’ The KB’s role was identified in all three domains including Knowledge Manager (eg, defining questions), Linkage and Exchange Agent (eg, engaging stakeholders), and Capacity Builder (eg, research interpretation).

The MSSU facilitated an IKT approach by acting as a KB throughout the Bridge Process. This deliberative and sequential process served as an effective strategy to increase collaborative health research in the province.


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  • Receive Date: 30 October 2021
  • Revise Date: 29 November 2022
  • Accept Date: 02 January 2023
  • First Publish Date: 07 January 2023