Reinventing the wheel- the trouble with knowledge exchange
The World Bank recently asked itself, "Is anyone actually reading our reports?", and discovered a shocking answer: nearly a third of their online reports have never, ever, been accessed. Not once. Only a tenth had been accessed more than 250 times. Over 80% had never been cited or referenced in any way.
This news might be dismissed as a result of the sometimes esoteric topics dissected by the organization, which have a limited potential audience. The quality and importance of some reports may also bear on circulation. But there is a much bigger message to take from this: solutions exist to some of the problems we face, they just haven’t been shared efficiently.
Time for change
The above situation is also relevant to stakeholders in mental health. Within the worlds of research and policy, there is a growing awareness of the gap between those producing evidence and those making decisions. It’s time for alternative, more effective knowledge exchange methods to be developed.
There are many initiatives out there trying to tackle the cumbersome issue of sharing knowledge. For example, the K* Initiative has come forth with an approach for ensuring all methods of knowledge exchange are understood, promoted and used. K* was coined as an overarching term to describe the many knowledge sharing activities and related processes that exist currently, namely:
The Mental Health Innovation Network has knowledge exchange at the core of its mission. Our objective is:
"To facilitate the scale up of innovation through the provision of appropriately packaged information and its timely transfer to relevant stakeholders."
But for MHIN to be successful, it will require cooperation and buy-in from all members of the mental health community.
Useful resources and exciting innovations are already available to be explored, but new resources and projects need to be added continually to ensure the network is up-to-date with the latest work and solutions. The community section includes member and organization profiles, which stakeholders can create for themselves in order to network with other members and sign up to receive important news and information.
MHIN's knowledge exchange team has already undertaken some preliminary consultations with researchers and policy makers to get a better understanding of their communication needs. The results of these, and all future MHIN research, will be made available in easily digestible forms on the site. But these insights are reliant on stakeholders' response to calls to action.
The bottom line
Better knowledge exchange will lead to better decision making within and about mental health, and all stakeholders have a part to play, so get sharing.