Continuing education, guideline implementation, and the emerging transdisciplinary field of knowledge translation


  • Dave Davis MD, CCFP, FCFP, FRCPC(Hon)

    Corresponding author
    1. The Knowledge Translation Program of the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital; University of Toronto; and Ontario Medical Association/Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ontario
    • Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 500 University Avenue, Suite 650, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1V7
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This article discusses continuing education and the implementation of clinical practice guidelines or best evidence, quality improvement, and patient safety. Continuing education focuses on the perspective of the adult learner and is guided by well-established educational principles. In contrast, guideline implementation and related concepts borrow from the fields of quality improvement and patient safety and from health services research. Relative to the question of improved clinical outcomes, both to some extent afford only partial understanding of a complex issue. Knowledge translation (KT) is a transformative concept that links the best elements of both broad fields and, in particular, adds educational elements to the work of health services researchers and others. Interdisciplinary in the extreme, KT is explored in some detail: its major elements (information, facilitation, context, the clinician-learner, among others) considered as variables in an equation leading to knowledge uptake and improved health care outcomes and an improved functioning health care system.