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A protocol for a systematic review of the use of process evaluations in knowledge translation research Open Access


Author or creator
Scott, Shannon D.
Rotter, Thomas
Hartling, Lisa
Chambers, Thane
Banner-Martin, Katherine
Additional contributors
Systematic review
Health interventions
Knowledge translation
Process evaluation
Research use
Type of item
Research Material
Background Experimental designs for evaluating knowledge translation (KT) interventions for professional behavior change can provide strong estimates of intervention effectiveness but offer limited insight how the intervention worked or not. Furthermore, trials provide little insight into the ways through which interventions lead to behavior change and how they are moderated by different facilitators and barriers. As a result, the ability to generalize the findings from one study to a different context, organization, or clinical problem is severely compromised. Consequently, researchers have started to explore the causal mechanisms in complementary studies (process evaluations) alongside experimental designs for evaluating KT interventions. This study focuses on improving process evaluations by synthesizing current evidence on process evaluations conducted alongside experimental designs for evaluating KT interventions. Methods/Design A medical research librarian will develop and implement search strategies designed to identify evidence that is relevant to process evaluations in health research. Studies will not be excluded based on design. Included studies must contain a process evaluation component aimed at understanding or evaluating a KT intervention targeting professional behavior change. Two reviewers will perform study selection, quality assessment, and data extraction using standard forms. Disagreements will be resolved through discussion or third party adjudication. Data to be collected include study design, details about data collection approaches and types, theoretical influences, approaches to evaluate intervention dose delivered, intervention dose received, intervention fidelity, intervention reach, data analysis, and study outcomes. This study is not registered with PROSPERO. Discussion There is widespread acceptance that the generalizability of quantitative trials of KT interventions would be significantly enhanced to other contexts, health professional groups, and clinical conditions through complementary process evaluations alongside trials. This systematic review will serve as a ‘state of the science’ on methodological approaches to process evaluations and will allow us to: 1) take stock of current research approaches and 2) develop concrete recommendations for knowledge users (e.g., quality consultants and health services researchers) designing future KT process evaluations.
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© 2014 Scott et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Citation for previous publication
Scott, S.D., Rotter, T., Hartling, L., Chambers, T., & Bannar-Martin, K.H. 2014. A protocol for a systematic review of the use of process evaluations in knowledge translation research. Systematic Reviews, 3(1), 149. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-3-149
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