Behind Bars: Knowledge Generation and Mobilisation in Tricky Settings

York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit is pleased to host a seminar for the Toronto Chapter of the KTE CoP.

Event Details

Thursday, January 22, 2015
4:00-6:00 pm
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Nexus Lounge (room 12-130)
252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1V6

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Behind Bars: Knowledge Generation and Mobilisation in Tricky Settings (PDF)

Topic: Behind Bars: Knowledge Generation and Mobilisation in Tricky Settings

Evaluating real world programs in situ has the potential to be grounded in collaborative partnerships, to generate useful evidence, and to open doors for policy or practice application. But, in some settings such as prisons and correctional agencies, this can be particularly challenging! In our recent maiden journey into prison research we discovered for example that best practice principles about engaging with the ‘target groups’ can be thwarted by bureaucracy, use-friendly approaches may not comply with protocols, external contingencies cannot always be planned for, and institutionalised cautiousness can trump what is in the best interests of participants and stakeholders. We also learnt the frustrating way that even co-created evidence that has implications for changes to practice or policy is not always welcome, and that there are trade-offs in navigating a pathway to research dissemination and application. Yet there were also positive and powerful lessons learnt – from the value of investing time in the building of relationships with key gatekeepers and on the ground enablers, through to the need for a lateral problem solving when barriers are encountered. Research that challenges the ‘status quo’ can often be doomed to sit on a shelf in government agencies, hence our current efforts are focused on looking beyond the ‘usual suspects’ to identify allies and receptive advocates for action.

This presentation draws on our evaluation of a preventative mental health program in prisons (DRUMBEAT) to reflect on some of the challenges and insights from research and knowledge mobilisation in ‘tricky settings’ and/or with complex population groups (incarcerated prisoners in this case). DRUMBEAT is an evidence-based intervention that incorporates both experimental and cognitive based therapies addressing factors relating to mental health, emotional regulation, resilience and social relationships. While the program has run previously in schools in Australia and has recently been taken to the USA, it was breaking new ground to take it into seven quite different prisons, let alone try to evaluate it behind bars! There were many challenges in undertaking a low budget institutionally constrained evaluation whilst still trying to embed a knowledge mobilization approach. The presentation is framed as a starting point for discussion and collaborative learning’s, and we welcome suggestions for strengthening knowledge mobilisation within our efforts to build up real-world grounded evidence base for programs and policies to improve wellbeing in prisons and other ‘tricky settings’.

About the Presenterlwpicbio

Lisa Wood
Associate Professor and Deputy Director
Centre for the Built Environment and Health
School of Population Health
University of Western Australia

My career story thus far

I have worked in the fields of health promotion and public health for 23 years: currently in research, but previously in policy development, program and campaign planning, implementation and evaluation. This has included work with academic, government and non-government organisations, and engagement as a public health consultant in Western Australia, nationally, and internationally.

My current roles

As an Associate Professor within the School of Population Health, I am active across a range of research projects, as well as involved in supervision of postgraduate students and university teaching. I am an honorary research fellow with the Telethon Kids Institute, and was the founding Deputy Director of the UWA Centre for Built Environment and Health.

In 2013, I commenced as a consultant and technical advisor in tobacco control to the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease The Union. This has provided me with the opportunity to get involved in efforts to reduce the enormous preventable burden of tobacco related death and disease in Vietnam and the Philippines.

I also give a lot of time to service roles within the University and externally. This includes chairing several committees, and my role on the Board of Relationships Australia (WA) and the WA Board of the Heart Foundation.

Knowledge Translation

There are growing calls for researchers and universities to demonstrate the community value and impact of research, beyond traditional publication metrics. This aligns with my strong personal commitment to doing useful research that can help make the world a more equitable and healthier place for all. This entails:

  • Collaborating with organisations within and outside health to frame useful research questions, appropriate methods and partnerships
  • Targeted dissemination of research evidence through user-friendly summaries, policy submissions, meetings with interested agencies, workshops etc
  • Commissioned research to evaluate programs or to turns evidence into practical policy or practice guidelines.
  • Media interviews and stories about my research and its implications (generated over 160 media stories (press, radio, TV).

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