Life as a knowledge broker in public health

Paula Robeson, Maureen Dobbins, Kara DeCorby


Program objective – Knowledge brokers (KBs), like clinical librarians (CLs), are information professionals involved in the promotion of evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM). As with CLs, the impact of literature-evaluating KBs on the health sector is sparse, and there is limited consensus on their role. To provide guidance to information professionals and organizations regarding the KB role, this paper describes a typical “day in the life” of a KB in delivering a program to promote EIDM among Canadian public health professionals. Setting – The KB program was implemented in a randomized controlled trial evaluating knowledge transfer and exchange strategies. Participants – Public health managers at various levels within Canadian public health units or regional health authorities. Program – The KB identified decision makers’ (DMs) evidence needs; facilitated access to and use of high-quality evidence; assisted in decision making; and facilitated EIDM skill development. Results – The KB role, activities and related tasks, lessons learned, and challenges are described. Conclusion – Central themes included the importance of relationship development, ongoing support, customized approaches, and individual and organizational capacity development. The novelty of the KB role in public health provided a unique opportunity to assess the need for and reaction to the role and its associated activities.

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