Enabling visibility of the clinician-scientists’ knowledge broker role: a participatory design research in the Dutch nursing-home sector

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Background: A group of clinician-scientists and managers working within a Dutch academic network, experienced difficulties in clearly defining the knowledge broker role of the clinician-scientists. They found no role clarity in literature, nor did they find tools or methods suitable for clinician-scientists. Clarifying role expectations and providing accountability for funding these knowledge broker positions was difficult. The aim of this research was to design a theory-informed tool that allowed clinician-scientists to make their knowledge broker role visible. Methods: A participatory design research was conducted in three phases, over a 21-month period, with a design group consisting of an external independent researcher, clinician-scientists and their managers from within the academic network. Phase 1 constituted a literature review, a context analysis and a needs analysis. Phase 2 constituted the design and development of a suitable tool and phase 3 was an evaluation of the tool’s perceived usefulness. Throughout the research process, the researcher logged the theoretic basis for all design decisions. Results: The clinician-scientist’s knowledge broker role is a knowledge-intensive role and work-tasks associated with this role are not automatically visible (phase 1). A tool (the SP-tool) was developed in Microsoft Excel. This allowed clinician-scientists to log their knowledge broker activities as distinct from their clinical work and research related activities (phase 2). The SP-tool contributed to the clinician-scientists’ ability to make their knowledge broker role visible to themselves and their stakeholders (phase 3). The theoretic contribution of the design research is a conceptual model of professionalisation of the clinician-scientist’s knowledge broker role. This model presents the relationship between work visibility and the clarification of functions of the knowledge broker role. In the professionalisation of knowledge-intensive work, visibility contributes to the definition of clinician-scientists broker functions, which is an element necessary for the professionalisation of an occupation. Conclusions: The SP-tool that was developed in this research, contributes to creating work visibility of the clinician-scientists’ knowledge broker role. Further research using the SP-tool could establish a clearer description of the knowledge broker role at the day-to-day professional level and improved ability to support this role within organisations.




Barry, M., Kuijer, W., Persoon, A., Nieuwenhuis, L., & Scherpbier, N. (2021). Enabling visibility of the clinician-scientists’ knowledge broker role: a participatory design research in the Dutch nursing-home sector. Health Research Policy and Systems, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-021-00715-z

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