Conceptual frameworks are recommended as a way of applying theory to enhance implementation efforts. The Knowledge to Action (KTA) Framework was developed in Canada by Graham and colleagues in the 2000s, following a review of 31 planned action theories. The framework has two components: Knowledge Creation and an Action Cycle, each of which comprises multiple phases. This review sought to answer two questions: 'Is the KTA Framework used in practice? And if so, how?'
This study is a citation analysis and systematic review. The index citation for the original paper was identified on three databases-Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar-with the facility for citation searching. Limitations of English language and year of publication 2006-June 2013 were set. A taxonomy categorising the continuum of usage was developed. Only studies applying the framework to implementation projects were included. Data were extracted and mapped against each phase of the framework for studies where it was integral to the implementation project.
The citation search yielded 1,787 records. A total of 1,057 titles and abstracts were screened. One hundred and forty-six studies described usage to varying degrees, ranging from referenced to integrated. In ten studies, the KTA Framework was integral to the design, delivery and evaluation of the implementation activities. All ten described using the Action Cycle and seven referred to Knowledge Creation. The KTA Framework was enacted in different health care and academic settings with projects targeted at patients, the public, and nursing and allied health professionals.
The KTA Framework is being used in practice with varying degrees of completeness. It is frequently cited, with usage ranging from simple attribution via a reference, through informing planning, to making an intellectual contribution. When the framework was integral to knowledge translation, it guided action in idiosyncratic ways and there was theory fidelity. Prevailing wisdom encourages the use of theories, models and conceptual frameworks, yet their application is less evident in practice. This may be an artefact of reporting, indicating that prospective, primary research is needed to explore the real value of the KTA Framework and similar tools.
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