Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp 723–732 | Cite as

Taking Power, Politics, and Policy Problems Seriously

The Limits of Knowledge Translation for Urban Health Research
  • Kelly MurphyEmail author
  • Patrick Fafard


Knowledge Translation (KT) is a growing movement in clinical and health services research, aimed to help make research more relevant and to move research into practice and policy. This paper examines the conventional model of policy change presented in KT and assesses its applicability for increasing the impact of urban health research on urban health policy. In general, KT conceptualizes research utilization in terms of the technical implementation of scientific findings, on the part of individual decision-makers who can be “targeted” for a KT intervention, in a context that is absent of political interests. However, complex urban health problems and interventions infrequently resemble this single decision, single decision-maker model posited by KT. In order to clarify the conditions under which urban health research is more likely or not to have an influence on public policy development, we propose to supplement the conventional model with three concepts drawn from the social science: policy stages, policy networks, and a discourse analysis approach for theorizing power in policy-making.


Knowledge Translation Urban health research Policy-making 



This work has been funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) under grant #101693, entitled “ Power, Politics, and the Use of Health Equity Research.”


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research on Inner City Health, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Keenan Research CentreSt. Michael`s HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Graduate School of Public and International AffairsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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