Skip to main content

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

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Rethinking Social Epidemiology

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
$34.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

Abbreviations

CIHR:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

KT:

knowledge translation

MMR:

measles, mumps and rubella

References

  • Asthana A, Halliday J (2006) What works in tackling health inequalities? Pathways, policies and practice through the lifecourse. The Polity Press, Bristol

    Google Scholar 

  • Bacchi C (2008) The politics of research management: reflections on the gap between what we “know” and what we do. Health Soc Rev 17:165–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Benoit C, Carroll D, Chaudhry M (2003) In search of a healing place: aboriginal women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Soc Sci Med 56:821–833

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Berkman L, Kawachi I (2000) Social epidemiology. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Bernal JD (1939) The social function of science. MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Bevir M, Rhodes R (2006) Governance stories. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • BiomedCentral (2010) About implementation science. http://www.implementationscience.com/info/about. Accessed 9 Aug 2010

  • Braveman P (2006) Health disparities and health equity: concepts and measurement. Annu Rev Public Health 27:167–194

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Burton P (2006) Modernising the policy process. Policy Stud 27:173–195

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buxton M, Hanney S, Jones T (2004) Estimating the economic value to societies of the impact of health research: a critical review. Bull World Health Organ 82:733–739

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Carden F (2009) Knowledge to policy: making the most of development research. International Development Research Centre and Sage Publications, Ottawa/London

    Google Scholar 

  • Chernomas R, Hudson I (2009) Social murder: the long-term effects of conservative economic policy. Int J Health Serv 39:107–121

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Coburn D (2000) Income inequality, social cohesion and the health status of populations: the role of neo-liberalism. Soc Sci Med 51:135–146

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008) Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Final report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. World Health Organization, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • Committee on Institutional Cooperation (2005) Resource guide and recommendations for defining and benchmarking engagement. CIC Committee on Engagement, Champaign

    Google Scholar 

  • Daniels N (2008) Just health: meeting health needs fairly. Cambridge University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Deleon P (1999) The stages approach to the policy process: what has it done? Where is it going? In: Sabatier P (ed) Theories of the policy process. Westview Press, Boulder

    Google Scholar 

  • Dorfman L, Wallack L, Woodruff K (2005) More than a message: framing public health advocacy to change corporate practices. Health Educ Behav 32:320–336, Discussion 355–362

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dunn JR (2002) Housing and inequalities in health: s study of socioeconomic dimensions of housing and self reported health from a survey of Vancouver residents. J Epidemiol Community Health 56:671–681

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group (1992) Evidence-based medicine. JAMA 268:2420–2425

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fafard P (2008) Evidence and healthy public policy: insights from health and political sciences. National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy. http://www.ccnpps.ca/docs/FafardEvidence08June.PDF. Accessed 8 Aug 2009

  • Frankish CJ, Hwang SW, Quantz D (2005) Homelessness and health in Canada: research lessons and priorities. Can J Public Health 96:S23–S29

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gagnon ML (2011) Moving knowledge to action through dissemination and exchange. J Clin Epidemiol 64:25–31

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Graham H (2004) Social determinants and their unequal distribution: clarifying policy understandings. Milbank Q 82:101–124

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Graham ID, Tetroe J (2007) How to translate health research knowledge into effective healthcare action. Healthc Q 10:20–22

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Graham ID, Harrison MB, Cerniuk B et al (2007) A community-researcher alliance to improve chronic wound care. Healthc Policy 2:72–78

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Habermas J (1971) Knowledge and human interests. Beacon Press, Boston

    Google Scholar 

  • Helfand M, Buckley DI, Freeman M et al (2009) Emerging risk factors for coronary heart disease: a summary of systematic reviews conducted for the U.S. preventive services task force. Ann Intern Med 151:496–507

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Howlett M, Ramesh M, Perl A (2009) Studying public policy: policy cycles & policy subsystems, 3rd edn. Oxford University Press, Don Mills

    Google Scholar 

  • Kingdon JW (2003) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Longman, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Krieger N (2001) A glossary for social epidemiology. J Epidemiol Community Health 55:693–700

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Krieger N, Alegria M, Almeida-Filho J et al (2010) Who, and what, causes health inequities? Reflections on emerging debates from an exploratory Latin American/North American workshop. J Epidemiol Community Health 64:747–749

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lemieux-Charles L, Champagne F (eds) (2004) Using knowledge and evidence in health care: multidisciplinary perspectives. University of Toronto Press, Toronto

    Google Scholar 

  • Leone R, Carroll BW (2010) Decentralisation and devolution in Canadian social housing policy. Environ Plann C Gov Policy 28:389–404

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Limoges C, Schwartzman S, Nowotny H et al (1994) The new production of knowledge: the dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. Sage Publications, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Lomas J (2003) Health services research: more lessons from Kaiser Permanente and Veterans’ affairs healthcare system. BMJ 327:1301–1302

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lomas J, Fulop N, Gagnon D et al (2003) On being a good listener: setting priorities for applied health services research. Milbank Q 81:363–388

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Merton RK (1973) The sociology of science: theoretical and empirical investigations. Chicago University Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Mosca L, Appel LJ, Benjamin EJ et al (2004) Evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in women. Circulation 109:672–693

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Murphy K, Topple R (eds) (2003) Measuring the gains from medical research an economic approach. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  • Murphy K, van der Meulen A (2008) What counts, who counts? Research, values, politics and the health of marginalized populations. In: Poster presented at The Summer Institute on KSTE Action, National Collaborating Centres for Public Health, Kelowna

    Google Scholar 

  • Oakes JM, Kaufman JS (2006) Methods in social epidemiology. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco

    Google Scholar 

  • Orsini M, Smith M (2010) Social movements, knowledge and public policy: the case of autism activism in Canada and the US. Crit Policy Stud 4:38–57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pablos-Mendez A, Shademani R (2006) Knowledge translation in global health. J Contin Educ Health Prof 26:81–86

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Raphael D (2003) Addressing the social determinants of health in Canada: bridging the gap between research findings and public policy. Policy Options/Politiques. www.irpp.org/po/archive/mar03/raphael.pdf. Accessed 10 Nov 2008

  • Rose H, Rose S (1970) Science and society. Penguin, Baltimore

    Google Scholar 

  • Sabatier P, Jenkins-Smith H (1999) The advocacy coalition framework: an assessment. In: Sabatier PA (ed) Theories of the policy process. Westview Press, Boulder

    Google Scholar 

  • Sackett DL, Strauss S, Richardson SR et al (2000) Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM, 2nd edn. Churchill Livingstone, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Savitz DA, Poole C, Miller WC (1999) Reassessing the role of epidemiology in public health. Am J Public Health 89:1158–1161

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Straus S, Tetroe J, Graham I (2009a) Defining knowledge translation. CMAJ 181:3–4

    Google Scholar 

  • Straus S, Tetroe J, Graham I (eds) (2009b) Knowledge translation in health care: moving from evidence to practice. Wiley-Blackwell, Mississauga

    Google Scholar 

  • Tibelius K, Stirling L (2007) Research capacity development and knowledge translation at CIHR. In: Presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, Victoria

    Google Scholar 

  • Weed DL, Mink PJ (2002) Roles and responsibilities of epidemiologists. Ann Epidemiol 12:67–72

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Weiss CH (1979) The many meanings of research utilization. Public Adm Rev 39:426–431

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilkinson R, Pickett K (2009) The spirit level: why more equal societies almost always do better. Allen Lane, London

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kelly Murphy .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Murphy, K., Fafard, P. (2012). Knowledge Translation and Social Epidemiology: Taking Power, Politics and Values Seriously. In: O’Campo, P., Dunn, J. (eds) Rethinking Social Epidemiology. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2138-8_13

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics