Producers of knowledge and evidence need to disseminate their work. It can be a slow and sometimes difficult task to transfer evidence into the practice setting, but planning effective dissemination strategies is part of this process.
Dissemination planning involves not only looking at where and when the information should be disseminated but what should be communicated and how it should be presented. These steps will maximise its relevance, usefulness and accessibility. 
There have also been calls to enable public access to publicly funded health research. [2,3] Open Access publishing is a recent movement that enables free online access to all publications by all users and removes financial and other barriers to access and use of knowledge. 
There are many potential users of research in healthcare. These include the public, patients and health consumers, non-government organisations, clinical service providers, health system managers, researchers and policy makers.
Where and how to disseminate
There are many options when choosing how to communicate with particular audiences. These include:
- Academic forums – journals, conferences
- Accessible forums – open access, online, open workshops and presentations
- Promotional distributions
- Organisational interventions
- New modes – RSS, blogs, podcasts.
Using more than one of these methods for dissemination, and producing different forms of information where suitable, can increase the spread of the research and knowledge.
Tailoring and testing the message
Preparing and testing the content of materials can help ensure their relevance to the intended audience. Engaging potential users of findings early in dissemination planning may be beneficial.
The Primary Health Care Research and Information Service has a number of online fact sheets that can provide practical assistance on topics such as designing a poster, oral presentations and reader-friendly writing.
The Medicines Transparency Alliance has produced information on How to assess, produce and disseminate print materials. The Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality (US) website has a Dissemination Planning Tool that may be helpful.
A number of dissemination initiatives have been developed to support more effective communication in palliative care. Some examples include:
- PC-FACS: (Fast Article Critical Summaries for Clinicians in Palliative Care) provides palliative care clinicians with concise summaries of the most important findings from more than 30 medical and scientific journals on a monthly basis.
- EPERC Fast Facts: These are concise, practical, peer-reviewed, and evidence-based summaries for clinicians and trainees in palliative care on core topics in the area. They are produced by the End of Life / Palliative Education Resource Center (EPERC) at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Finding out more
- Wallace J, Teare G, Verrall T, Chan B. Public reporting on the quality of healthcare: emerging evidence on promising practices for effective reporting. Ottawa: Canadian Health Services Foundation and Ontario Health Quality Council; 2007.
- National Institutes of Health (US) website: Public Access.
- National Health and Medical Research Council: Media Release. ARC and NHMRC encourage access to research findings. 23 January 2007.
- Public Library of Science Open Access.
Last updated 09 May 2012