Lessons learned from a training on knowledge translation in implementation research in Senegal

30 November 2022


Implementation research (IR) in health is still underdeveloped in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly in Africa (World Health Organization, 2014; Baumann et al., 2018). In addition, there is still little research on lessons learned from IR in these countries (Baumann et al., 2018; Nnaji et al., 2021). There is a growing interest in IR in Africa. Thus, several initiatives have been taken to better train stakeholders with, for example, the creation of several national evaluation networks in several countries. +.

WHO defines IR in health as: research in identifying solutions and options for overcoming implementation obstacles in health systems and programmes is widely recognised. This form of research addresses implementation bottlenecks, identifies optimal approaches for a particular setting, and promotes the uptake of research findings: ultimately, it leads to improved health care and its delivery +. It links research and practice; it should inform practice.

According to WHO, knowledge translation (KT) techniques can help researchers become more active, context-aware, and collaborative in disseminating the results of research. Application of these techniques help make research results more relevant to the target audience, and ultimately more useful +. To improve the health of populations, it is, therefore, necessary to (i) increase the use of IR findings to bridge the gap between research, policy, and practice; and (ii) co-construct solutions by building partnerships based on shared engagement between researchers, policymakers, managers, and populations.

What we have done

The training on KT was organised within the framework of the project “TDR: on implementation research: infectious diseases of poverty” of the Institut de Santé et Développement (ISED) of the Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) of Dakar, Senegal. This training took place from August 16 to 18, 2022, at the ISED. It was intended for researchers, doctoral students, and managers in the health field. It introduced the participants to (i) the different models, tools, and strategies of KT in the IR, (ii) the realisation of a KT plan and policy briefs and (iii) the usefulness of computer graphics for a better presentation of the results of the IR.

The number of participants was nine (five men and four women). The pedagogical approach used was based on the broadcasting of several videos of about 25 minutes from the massive online open course (MOOC) of the RENARD team on the introduction to KT. Following each video, which presented the concepts, models and strategies of KT, exchanges and discussions were held between the facilitators and all the participants. The training was meant to be practical. Thus, the afternoons were reserved for group work. To help participants produce policy briefs, Tony Zitti, a knowledge broker, followed up with them after the training. 

What we would do differently

At the end of the training, an evaluation was proposed to the participants. The majority of the participants were satisfied with the training. However, they felt that the number of days of training was not enough. They suggested that the training be conducted in half days over five days instead of condensing the training into three days. 

Lessons Learned from KT Training

  • In order to better transfer the results of their research, researchers need to be trained in KT.
  • In addition to researchers, managers, decision-makers, and some of the people in charge of health structures must also be trained in KT.
  • It is necessary that universities and research institutes value KT activities as a criterion for the promotion of researchers.
  • It is important to set up a follow-up after the training to allow them to put into practice the knowledge acquired during the training.
  • We believe that training in face-to-face sessions and with the help of videos from the MOOC can ensure that participants follow the entire training. This is not often the case with MOOC because some participants do not follow them to the end.

Some examples of policy briefs


  • Baumann, A. A., Morshed, A. B., Tabak, R. G., & Proctor, E. K. (2018). Toolkits for dissemination and implementation research : Preliminary development. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, 2(4), 239244. Cambridge Core. https://doi.org/10.1017/cts.2018.316
  • Nnaji, C. A., Wiysonge, C. S., Okeibunor, J. C., Malinga, T., Adamu, A. A., Tumusiime, P., & Karamagi, H. (2021). Implementation research approaches to promoting universal health coverage in Africa : A scoping review. BMC Health Services Research, 21(1), 414. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-021-06449-6
  • Siron, S., Dagenais, C., & Ridde, V. (2015). What research tells us about knowledge transfer strategies to improve public health in low-income countries : A scoping review. International Journal of Public Health, 60(7), 849863. PubMed. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-015-0716-5
  • World Health Organization (Éd.). (2014). Implementation research toolkit : Workbook. World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/110523