The promise and peril of alternative approaches to knowledge dissemination

Once a study has been completed, the final step of dissemination is crucial. Alternative approaches to sharing knowledge along with diverse forms of knowledge are becoming more visible in health care. However, there are both promises and perils to be considered. Drawing on a current study examining how people story and re-story their lives when living with serious illness, a research team lead by Dr. Laurene Sheilds (Re-stor(y)ing Life Within Life-Threatening Illness – School of Nursing) has the following lessons to share. Research findings in the form of symbolic images and poetic renderings are disseminated using an art exhibit in local galleries and health care facilities, a photo narrative website with vignettes and participant voice-overs, and a community focused brochure of images and narrative quotations. The benefits of such strategies (bringing nursing research into public spaces, opening public discourses on health and illness, normalizing serious illness) also come with challenges (complex ERB revisions, unknown risks with internet exposure, and expertise of curator and web
designer required). While further research is needed to assess the impact of alternative approaches, the potential for nursing research to make a difference in the lives of patients and families using diverse venues holds great promise worth pursuing.

Research Team consists of Drs. Laurene Sheilds (PI), Anne Bruce, and Kelli Stajduhar from the University of Victoria, School of Nursing, and Anita Molzahn from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing. Research assistants included Kara Schick Makaroff, Roseanne Beuthin, Sheryl Shermak and exhibit curator Robbyn Lanning. Funding was provided by the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

From the 2012 Winter Communiqué