Knowledge Translation and Social Epidemiology: Taking Power, Politics and Values Seriously



Although demand for evidence-based policies and programs to reduce population health inequities is intensifying, the influence of social epidemiology on public policy remains limited. In clinical and health services research domains, knowledge translation strategies have been developed to increase the impact of research evidence in policy making and practice. We review the applicability of these strategies for increasing the practical impact of social epidemiology research, drawing on the knowledge constitutive interests framework developed by Jürgen Habermas. We find that conventional knowledge translation characterizes policy change and the role of research in technical-instrumental terms that do not reflect the complex social, political and values-based dimensions of policy change and research use that come into play in relation to the reduction of health inequities. While conventional knowledge translation approaches may work in some cases, for social epidemiology to play a significant role in advancing social change, knowledge translation strategies that acknowledge and respond to the intersections of power, politics, values and science also need to be developed.



Canadian Institutes of Health Research


knowledge translation


measles, mumps and rubella


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research on Inner City HealthSt. Michael’s HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Graduate School of Public and International AffairsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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