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Canadian Journal of Public Health





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Objectives: This study sought to better understand the role of research knowledge in Ontario tobacco control networks by asking: 1) How is research managed; 2) How is research evaluated; and 3) How is research utilized?

Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a qualitative study based on individual semi-structured interviews with 29 participants between January and May 2006. These participants were purposefully sampled from across four Ministries in the provincial government (n=7), non-government (n=15), and public health organizations (n=7). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded and analyzed using QSR N7 qualitative software. This study received ethics approval from The University of Western Ontario Health Research Ethics Board.

Results: There exists a dissonance between the preference for peer-reviewed, unbiased, non-partisan knowledge to support claims and the need for fast, “real-time” information on which to base tobacco-related policy decisions. Second, there is a great deal of tacit knowledge held by experts within the Ontario tobacco control community. The networks among government, non-government, and public health organizations are the structures through which tacit knowledge is exchanged. These networks are dynamic, fluid and shifting.

Conclusion: There exists a gap in the production and utilization of research knowledge for tobacco control policy. Tacit knowledge held by experts in Ontario tobacco control networks is an integral means of managing and evaluating research knowledge. Finally, this study builds on Weiss’s concept of tactical model of evidence use by highlighting the utilization of research to enhance one’s credibility.

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