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Background: Significant resources are invested in the production of research knowledge with the ultimate objective of integrating research evidence into practice. Toolkits are becoming increasingly popular as a knowledge translation (KT) strategy for disseminating health information, to build awareness, inform, and change public and healthcare provider behavior. Toolkits communicate messages aimed at improving health and changing practice to diverse audiences, including healthcare practitioners, patients, community and health organizations, and policy makers. This scoping review explores the use of toolkits in health and healthcare. Methods: Using Arksey and O'Malley's scoping review framework, health-based toolkits were identified through a search of electronic databases and grey literature for relevant articles and toolkits published between 2004 and 2011. Two reviewers independently extracted data on toolkit topic, format, target audience, content, evidence underlying toolkit content, and evaluation of the toolkit as a KT strategy. Results: Among the 253 sources identified, 139 met initial inclusion criteria and 83 toolkits were included in the final sample. Fewer than half of the sources fully described the toolkit content and about 70% made some mention of the evidence underlying the content. Of 83 toolkits, only 31 (37%) had been evaluated at any level (27 toolkits were evaluated overall relative to their purpose or KT goal, and 4 toolkits evaluated the effectiveness of certain elements contained within them). Conclusions: Toolkits used to disseminate health knowledge or support practice change often do not specify the evidence base from which they draw, and their effectiveness as a knowledge translation strategy is rarely assessed. To truly inform health and healthcare, toolkits should include comprehensive descriptions of their content, be explicit regarding content that is evidence-based, and include an evaluation of the their effectiveness as a KT strategy, addressing both clinical and implementation outcomes.
Barac, R., Stein, S., Bruce, B., & Barwick, M. (2014). Scoping review of toolkits as a knowledge translation strategy in health. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12911-014-0121-7