Making sense of knowing: Knowledge creation and translation in student occupational therapy practitioners
Background. While the body of evidence regarding knowledge translation (KT) has surged in the past decade, quality information remains largely unknown, especially in occupational therapy (OT). Evidence-based practice within the profession is therefore potentially threatened, necessitating that students are adequately trained and able to translate research into practice when entering the profession.
Objective. To explore how OT student practitioners create and translate knowledge in their clinical practice settings.
Methods. An open-ended questionnaire was administered to all final-year OT students (N=24) enrolled at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, in 2016, with a response rate of 71% (n=17). Data were analysed thematically using an inductive-deductive approach.
Results. Strategies used by students in knowledge creation included inquiry through discussions with peers and interactions with stakeholders (lecturers, mentors and clinicians); synthesis by hands-on practice and in the application of knowledge in research projects; and use of knowledge tools (e.g. electronic searches for literature, presentations and seminars) and social media (e.g. instant messages, videos and blogs). KT was enacted by educational meetings for peer development – both student and clinician driven, educational materials and dissemination channels, such as workshops, presentations and in developing communities.
Conclusions. This study identified context-specific KT processes and strategies used by OT students. Strategies were simple and accessible within their contexts, and were mainly related to gaining insights geared towards specific OT practice. These findings may assist educators in developing opportunities for students that may enhance their creation and translation of knowledge into practice as clinicians.