Case Synopsis

The case outlines the journey of Avery McCann, a researcher at Georgian Bay Health Unit. Avery has been asked to create a knowledge product for the local school board, Georgian Bay District School Board (GBDSB), to teach about adolescent self-harm and how social media may influence this behaviour. Formatted as a decision-making case, four potential options are proposed: a formal literature review report for the Director of Education, PowerPoint presentations, infographics and posters, or educational booklets. The head of the committee in the case details the relative benefits and drawbacks to each possible option because they offer different solutions to the same problem. Limited by time and budget constraints, the researcher, along with her team, must choose a single knowledge product to use, hopefully selecting the option that creates the most positive change.

Along with her team, Avery must determine which option is best for conveying their findings to the students, parents, and teachers of Georgian Bay so that tangible change is created. Unfortunately, the Director of Student Wellness at GBDSB, Patric Andersson, does not have extensive knowledge about mental health, making the selection of a knowledge translation method even more critical. It is vital that the students receive the appropriate messaging regardless of the medium (online or written communication) or person presenting it to them (i.e., teachers, counsellors, etc.). The issue at hand is very pressing. Although self-harm is not usually fatal, it can create lasting damage to the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of those who engage in it, as well as to their loved ones. Further, self-injurious behaviour can be fatal, meaning that a delay in acting could be incredibly costly to the lives and well-being of the students at GBDSB. Ultimately, the case presents students with a complex and important decision that requires detailed consideration, planning, and evaluation in order for a successful outcome to be reached.

Case Objectives

1. Understand and explain the concept of knowledge translation.
2. Apply frameworks/models of knowledge translation to understand, justify, and plan for a knowledge product that enables adolescents to research and learn about self-harm.
3. Use behavioural theories to understand the rationale for knowledge translation and to enhance the quality of knowledge product creation by using the case as an example.
4. Compare alternatives for a health communication strategy using knowledge of health literacy and knowledge translation principles.

Case Study Questions

Pre-Class Discussion
1. How would you describe knowledge translation to someone who has never heard the term before?
2. Which of the four proposed knowledge products would you select? Why?
3. Do you know of any other knowledge translation strategies that Avery and the committee did not consider?

Class Discussion
1. Briefly summarize the case, outlining the key challenges or issues being faced. 2. What stood out to you as good knowledge translation practices undertaken by the characters in the case?
3. What stood out to you as less effective knowledge translation practices undertaken by the characters in the case? Why do you believe these would be less effective?
4. Which steps from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Model of Knowledge Translation are prominent in the case? Which steps have already occurred and have yet to occur? What actions take place during each of these steps?
5. How can the knowledge-to-action framework be applied to the case? What has occurred or will occur in each stage?


Adolescents, health promotion planning, knowledge translation, mental health, school-based programs, self-harm, social media, online communities, cyberbullying



Recommended Citation

Wishart, T., McKinley, G. (2022). From Bench to Classroom: Knowledge Translation in School Mental Health Initiatives. in: Darnell, R. & Sibbald, S. L. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2021. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.