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Building bridges with decision-makers: rules for rural and remote health researchers

Submitted: 24 February 2006
Revised: 9 July 2006
Published: 4 August 2006

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Author(s) : MacLeod MLP.

Martha MacLeod

Citation: MacLeod MLP.  Building bridges with decision-makers: rules for rural and remote health researchers. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2006; 6: 567. Available: (Accessed 21 October 2017)


Context: Until recently, rural and remote health researchers have undertaken predominantly investigator-driven research. In Canada and elsewhere, major health research funding agencies have begun to expect researchers to incorporate into funding proposals, a well-developed plan for sharing research findings with decision-makers, those who can incorporate relevant findings into clinical practice, programs and services.
Issue: The research arising from the interests of investigators, although frequently relevant to communities, too often has resulted in data extraction that parallels resource extraction from resource-based rural or remote communities. Such research can result in non-usable findings, and in the non-use of research findings by decision-makers.
Lessons learned: In order that useful and usable knowledge is created, bridges need to be built between researchers and decision-makers. Six ‘rules for researchers’ are proposed to help build bridges with decision-makers: Rule 1. Engage the right decision-makers; Rule 2. Determine what’s in it for you and for them; Rule 3. Develop a sustained relationship; Rule 4. Live in their world once in a while; Rule 5. Think of doing research differently; Rule 6. Build integrative research infrastructures.

Key words: diffusion of innovation, knowledge exchange, knowledge translation, research methodology, research partnerships.

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