Illuminating the Processes of Knowledge Transfer in Nursing


  • Marilyn Aita wishes to thank the Montreal Children Hospital Research Institute, the Québec Order of nurses (OIIQ), the Canadian Institute of Health Research/Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF)/Foundation of Toronto Hospital for Sick Children (HSCF), and the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec (FRSQ), for their financial support. Marie-Claire Richer wishes to thank the FRSQ, the Centre for training and expertise in nursing administration research (FERASI), and the research foundation of the McGill University Health Centres (THP Molson Award) for their financial support. Marjolaine Héon wishes to thank the Faculty of Nursing of University of Montréal, the Fondation de l'Hôpital Sainte-Justine, the Québec Order of nurses (OIIQ-FRESIQ), and the Groupe de recherche interuniversitaire en soins infirmiers de Montréal (GRISIM) for their financial support.

Address correspondence to Marilyn Aita, Faculty of Nursing, University of Montréal, 2375 chemin de la Côte Ste-Catherine, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3T 1A8;


Rationale: Over the past 10 years, there has been a propensity to translate research findings and evidence into clinical practice, and concepts such as knowledge transfer, research dissemination, research utilization, and evidence-based practice have been described in the nursing literature.

Aim: This manuscript shows a selective review of the definitions and utilization of these concepts and offers a perspective on their interrelationships by indicating how knowledge transfer processes are the basis of all the concepts under review.

Findings: Definitions and utilization of knowledge transfer in the literature have been influenced by educational and social perspectives and indicate two important processes that are rooted in the mechanisms of research dissemination, research utilization, and evidence-based practice. These processes refer to a cognitive and an interpersonal dimension. Knowledge transfer underlies a process involving cognitive resources as well as an interpersonal process where the knowledge is transferred between individuals or groups of individuals.

Conclusion and Implications: This manuscript can contribute to our understanding of the theoretical foundations linking these concepts and these processes by comparing and contrasting them. It also shows the value and empirical importance of the cognitive and interpersonal processes of knowledge transfer by which research findings and evidence can be successfully translated and implemented into the nursing clinical practice.