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Background: Dissemination of research findings is acknowledged as an important component of any research process. Implementation of research findings into practice or policy is necessary for improving outcomes in the targeted community. Given the context and dynamic environment in which researchers operate, there is need to find out existing gaps in terms of disseminating research findings to key stakeholders. The objective of this study was to investigate the health research dissemination strategies used by Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) researchers.
Methods: This was a mixed-method study employing concurrent sequence (use of both qualitative and quantitative) methods of data collection. The study was conducted in KEMRI’s 10 centres spread in 3 geographical areas: Kisumu, Kilifi, and Nairobi counties. Potential respondents were identified through purposive sampling. Three inter-related data collection methods were employed in this study. These methods included key informant interviews with: (a) MoH officials from county government; (b) KEMRI researchers; and (c) key KEMRI departments, namely Corporate Affairs and the library. Additionally, secondary sources of information, such as scientific reports, KEMRI annual reports, and financial statements, were also reviewed.
Results: Publication of papers in peer-reviewed journals was mentioned as the most common method of dissemination of research findings. Scientists published in 353 peer-reviewed journals (or publishing houses) between the years 2002 and 2015. Over 92.7% of these publications were in international peer-reviewed journals. Conferences and workshops were also mentioned. In the absence of a centralised electronic KEMRI publication database, the research team extracted and collated a publication lists from KEMRI annual reports and financial statements. This was limiting since it did not have an exhaustive list of all publications by KEMRI scientists. Only 3 respondents mentioned having written policy briefs or engaged the media as part of dissemination channels. The media representatives cited the use of social media (Facebook and Twitter) as another channel that KEMRI scientists could exploit. Challenges in dissemination included lack of knowledge on research translation leading to poor synthesis of research outputs as well as selective reporting by the media.
Conclusion: Publications in peer-reviewed journals was the most preferred channel of communicating scientific outputs. Conferences and writing of policy briefs were the other sources of dissemination. We recommend that KEMRI dissemination channels should go well beyond simply making research available through the traditional vehicles of journal publications and scientific conference presentations but establish institutional mechanism which would facilitate extracting the main messages or key implications derived from research results and communicating them to stakeholders in attractive ways that would encourage them to factor the research implications into their work.