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Academic Health Science Centres as Vehicles for Knowledge Mobilisation in Australia? A Qualitative Study

Edelman, Alexandra and Clay-Williams, Robyn and Fischer, Michael and Kislov, Roman and Kitson, Alison and McLoughlin, Ian and Skouteris, Helen and Harvey, Gillian (2020) Academic Health Science Centres as Vehicles for Knowledge Mobilisation in Australia? A Qualitative Study. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. ISSN 2322-5939

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Abstract

Background Despite increasing investments in academic health science centres (AHSCs) in Australia and an expectation that they will serve as vehicles for knowledge translation and exchange, there is limited empirical evidence on whether and how they deliver impact. The aim of this study was to examine and compare the early development of four Australian AHSCs to explore how they are enacting their impact-focused role. Methods A descriptive qualitative methodology was employed across four AHSCs located in diverse health system settings in urban and regional locations across Australia. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with 15 academic, industry and executive board members of participating AHSCs. The analysis combined inductive and deductive elements, with inductive categories mapped to deductive themes corresponding to the study aims. Results AHSCs in Australia are in an emergent state of development and are following different pathways. Whilst varied approaches to support research translation are apparent, there is a dominant focus on structure and governance, as opposed to action-oriented roles and processes to deliver strategic goals. Balancing collaboration and competition between partners presents a challenge, as does identifying appropriate ways to evaluate impact. Conclusion The early stage of development of AHSCs in Australia presents an important opportunity for formative learning and evaluation to optimise their enactment of knowledge mobilisation processes for impact.

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