The implementation of evidence-informed clinical practices is crucial to delivering high-quality cancer care—yet significant gaps exist between the production of new knowledge and its application at the point-of-care. Knowledge translation (KT) has emerged as a solution to help bridge these knowledge-to-practice gaps, and to ensure that the right treatments and services are in place for the right patients at the right time.
KT is the process of translating rapidly evolving scientific knowledge into health care practices and organizational policies to achieve the best possible outcomes for the patient, families, and communities we serve. Creating a strong foundation for knowledge translation among BC Cancer clinicians is a key priority within the Nursing and Allied Health and Knowledge Translation (NAHRKT) department. With this goal, the NAHRKT team partnered in 2021 with Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health to launch the inaugural KT Challenge at BC Cancer.
The KT Challenge is a team-based program that offers nursing and allied health professionals the opportunity to learn basic KT skills, work with a mentor, and develop a project to improve clinical practice, organizational policy, and patient care.
Three BC Cancer teams are currently participating in the training stage of the KT Challenge:
- Outdoor Recreation for BC Cancer Patients
- Team members: Linda Sebastian, James Sader, Julia Downey, and Patchouli O’Donovan (community partner, CRIS Adaptive Adventures).
- Patient Decision Aid: Pre-treatment G-tube insertion for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients
- Team members: Terry Lok, Eleah Stringer, Evelyn Wu, and Samantha Gamble.
- Show Me the Evidence: Doing KT at the Point-of-Care for Oncology Nursing Practice
- Team members: Raman Sandhu, Michelle LaFreniere, Megan Crosby, Jagbir Kaur, Alesia Clark, Scott Beck, and Heather Kilgour.
Terry, Eleah, Evelyn, and Samantha formed an interdisciplinary team comprised of registered dietitians and a speech language pathologist, representing three different BC Cancer sites (Abbotsford, Victoria, and Surrey). Their desire to improve care for patients with head and neck cancer brought them together:
“As clinicians and a team, we are motivated to improve supportive oncology care by responding to patient identified needs. Choosing whether to accept or forgo an enteral feeding tube can be a difficult and stressful decision for patients with head and neck cancer who are undergoing chemo-radiation therapy,” says Eleah.
Through their KT Challenge project they aim to create a patient decision aid on gastrostomy feeding tubes specific to patients with head and neck cancer, to help support patients and their caregivers in making a fully informed decision congruent with their goals and values.
“We hope to decipher the (often gray) literature and present the advantages and disadvantages of this feeding route in a manner that’s easy to make sense of. Through this, we hope to not only relieve some of the stress and anxiety associated with medical decision making, but to also provide a tangible tool that can be used by the interdisciplinary care team during this education process.”
Raman, Michelle, Megan, Jagbir, Alesia, Scott, and Heather are a team of registered nurses who perform different nursing roles that include direct care, clinical education, advanced practice, research, and higher education.
“While we’re still in the early stages of our project, participating in the KT Challenge has been a great lesson in collaboration and teamwork. Work closely with nurses from different domains of practice is allowing us to break silos and produce better outputs.”
They have been working from different corners of the province with the goal of improving how nurses access to research evidence informing changes that directly impact their clinical practice.
“As an evidence-based profession, nursing practice is continually reshaped to reflect new knowledge from within and outside of our discipline. Yet, the evidence that underscores changes to nursing practice can sometimes be inaccessible to clinicians at the point-of-care. This reality is concerning to our team. We saw the KT Challenge as an opportunity to explore a new process for putting research evidence into the hands of nurses, with the ultimate goal of improving care for the patients, families, and communities we serve.”
Scott mentions that the team was drawn towards the KT Challenge for the structure, support, and resources that it provides to help them tackle some of the complex problems in the health care system. The support received by participating in the program is also highlighted by Terry, leader of the “Patient Decision Aid” project, who looks into future applications of the knowledge and skills the team is developing:
“We have learned how to plan the implementation and evaluation of future practice changes. This challenge has help lay the foundation for ongoing quality improvement projects. We envision the expansion of the development of patient decision aids to include decision aids on whether or not to follow therapeutic dietary interventions that lack robust evidence but are often encouraged by family, friends, and caregivers.”
Interested in participating in the KT Challenge?
A new intake will be announced by the end of the summer, with the Letter of Intent form due in October 2022. The updated application forms and timeline will be available on the NAHRKT website. Stay tuned!
“Jump in and give it a go! The KT Challenge is a great opportunity to connect with likeminded colleagues around BC Cancer—you never know what kind of change you can create," says Scott.
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