Applying the Principles of Knowledge Translation and Exchange to Inform Dissemination of HIV Survey Results to Adolescent Participants in South Africa
It is widely accepted that researchers have an obligation to inform survey participants of research results. However, there is little evidence on the effectiveness of various dissemination strategies. The emerging field of knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) may offer insight given its focus on techniques to enhance the effectiveness of communicating evidence-based information. To date, KTE has focused primarily on information exchange between researchers and policy-makers as opposed to study participants; however, there are principles that may be relevant in this new context. This gap in the literature becomes even more salient in the context of public health research where research results can reveal particular misunderstandings or shortcomings in knowledge that threaten to severely compromise participants’ health. The objective of this article is to describe how KTE principles were used to inform dissemination of results of a self-administered sexual health survey to adolescent study participants in a resource-deprived, peri-urban area of South Africa. Strategies for enhancing two-way information exchange included constructing interactive dissemination sessions led by young, isiZulu fieldworkers. We also employed techniques to create a safe space for dialogue, encouraged the shared ownership of results and crafted targeted messages. Particularly noteworthy was the benefit accrued by the research team through this process of exchange, including novel explanations for study findings and new ideas for future research.