Health technology assessment use and dissemination by patient and consumer groups: Why and how?

Department of Health Administration, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care (Impact Factor: 1.31). 02/2008; 24(4):473-80. DOI: 10.1017/S0266462308080628
Source: PubMed


Although increasing effort is being devoted to developing strategies to increase knowledge transfer and the uptake of health technology assessment (HTA) by various stakeholders, very little is known about the utilization and dissemination of HTA findings by patient and consumer organizations. The goal of this study is to understand how and why patient and consumer organizations use HTA findings within their organizations, and what factors influence how and when they communicate their findings to members or other organizations.
We examined the use and dissemination of four controversial HTA reports by sixteen patient and consumer organizations in Ontario and Quebec. We gathered data from semistructured interviews conducted between December 2006 and April 2007.
Although HTA findings are often used by the patient and consumer organizations, key differences were observed in exactly how the four HTA reports were used. Three types of use (instrumental, conceptual, and symbolic) are reported and illustrated. We highlight the importance of the organization's mission and knowledge base in explaining the types of use observed.
We contend that the use and dissemination of HTA reports by specific groups could help in widening the debate around controversial health technologies. The implications and opportunities for HTA agencies relate to the following: (i) identification of "lay" organizations that could help in disseminating results; (ii) acknowledgement of a "lay" audience for HTA findings; (iii) strategic inclusion of advocacy groups during the assessment process for highly controversial technologies; and (iv) contribution of these organizations to the push efforts of knowledge transfer.

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    • "Finally, some definitions limit dissemination to specific audiences, such as individuals in clinical settings (Cronenwett, 1995; Montgomery et al., 2001), end-users who have the capacity to utilize the knowledge in their practice (Knott & Wildavsky, 1980; Scott et al., 2007; Wilson et al., 2010), or to an audience that the researchers want to influence (IHE, 2008). Other authors remain more general and rather suggest that the message be tailored to the specific audience targeted, notwithstanding if this audience relates to a clinical, research, community, or government setting (Brachaniec et al., 2009; Fattal & Lehoux, 2008; Kahn, 2009; Kobus et al., 2007; Lomas, 1993; Tetroe et al., 2008; Wilson et al., 2010). Given that the definitions of knowledge dissemination published in the literature vary significantly and seem to be influenced by the " object " to be disseminated, and given the purpose of the project at stake, which will be further described in the next section, knowledge dissemination is defined in this article as an active intervention that aims at communicating research data to a target audience via determined channels , using planned strategies for the purpose of creating a positive impact on the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, and practice. "
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