March 2017 Issue: Knowledge Translation: What is it and why is it relevant in kinesiology? - Daniel Santa Mina, RKin, PhD & Noah Wayne, RKin, PhD

Posted Mar 13th, 2017 in KineKT

Exercise has a long and rich history of scientific advances that have contributed to the evolution of kinesiology practice.  On a daily basis, new research is being conducted and published, exploring how movement improves performance and clinical outcomes, how exercise can affect psychological and emotional well-being, how activity interacts with our sociocultural environment, and how changes in health behaviours influence, and are influenced by, changes in politics and the economy.  For the kinesiologist, evidence-based practice requires consideration of research to guide assessment and treatment decisions for patients or clients, as well as other activities within their scope of practice, including service programming decisions, teaching, and interprofessional collaboration. Quite often, however, interesting and relevant science is not effectively communicated to stakeholders in ways that it can be adopted or understood to improve practice and outcomes1. Moving knowledge into action requires strategies that are specifically designed to facilitate the sharing, interpretation, and integration of the evidence – otherwise stated, knowledge translation (or ‘KT’) is a strategy that bridges the gap between research and practice.

KT is formally defined by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR; Canada’s preeminent funding agency for health research) as “dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically-sound application of knowledge to improve the health of Canadians, provide more effective health services and products and strengthen the health care system”2. KT is distinguished from similar terms, like knowledge creation (primary research), distillation (aggregation of evidence towards reviews and guidelines), and dissemination (peer-reviewed journals and academic presentations) because it refers to strategies about the use of knowledge to an audience beyond industry and healthcare experts to include administrations, policy-makers, and end-users (clients and patients)1. It is also distinct from implementation science that refers to evaluating the effectiveness of KT strategies in real-world settings.

KT is an essential element for all health disciplines and is particularly relevant to kinesiology given the gap between our understanding of the health value of physical activity and the actual uptake of a physically active lifestyle. Strategies for the integration of physical activity for health promotion and clinical care are desperately needed to offset the deteriorating health of our society caused by sedentary behaviour. KT can take a myriad of forms, including webinars on special topics, social/mass media campaigns, promotional videos, patient/client-facing educational material, and changes to programmatic design and delivery – the key unifying factor being communicating research in accessible and palatable ways to people who would benefit. 

A recent and novel example of KT in kinesiology by Smith and colleagues included an exploration of the use of narratives, or storytelling, to inform patients and healthcare practitioners about the relationship between, and strategies for, physical activity after a spinal cord injury (SCI).3  The authors found that narratives were useful in effectively communicating important information to “facilitate dialogue, teach, remind, reassure, and reinvigorate” these groups around the exercise following an SCI.3 Another example is the development and implementation of the Physical Activity Line that communicates information about exercise risk stratification, physical activity guidelines, and tailored exercise prescriptions in formats friendly to healthcare professionals and the public using tools such as fact sheets, social media, and telephone and web-based communication platforms to provide people with expert advice about exercise and physical activity4.

The Ontario Kinesiology Association is excited to announce “KineKT” (i.e. Kinesiology KT), an online and e-newsletter resource for brief, evidence-based commentaries that will connect the evidence with practicing kinesiologists, and other stakeholders interested in the science behind professional kinesiology. On behalf of the Academic Advisory Committee at the OKA, the editorial team of KineKT looks forward to supporting researchers in sharing their scientific activity and facilitating the translation of that activity to kinesiologists.


  1. Straus, SE, Tetroe, J Graham, I. Defining knowledge translation. CMAJ 2009; 181: 165-168.
  2. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Knowledge Translation in Health Care: Moving from Evidence to Practice.  (accessed 13 February, 2017).
  3. Smith, B, Tomasone, JR, Latimer-Cheung, AE, Martin Ginis, KA. Narrative as a knowledge translation tool for facilitating impact: Translating physical activity knowledge to disabled people and health professionals. Health Psych 2015; 34:303-313.
  4. Bredin SD, Warburton, DER. Physical Activity Line: Effective knowledge translation of evidence-based best practice in the real-world setting. Can Fam Physician 2013; 59: 967-968. 

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