Building capacity for integrated knowledge translation : a description of what we can learn from trainees’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic Medeiros, Priscilla; Laur, Celia; Nguyen, Tram; Gilfoyle, Meghan; Conway, Aislinn; Giroux, Emily; Hoekstra, Femke; Legasto, Jean M.; Ramage, Emily; Tittlemier, Brenda; et al.
The use of collaborative health research approaches, such as integrated knowledge translation (IKT), was challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic due to physical distancing measures and transition to virtual platforms. As IKT trainees (i.e. graduate students, postdoctoral scholars) within the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network (IKTRN), we experienced several changes and adaptations to our daily routine, work and research environments due to the rapid transition to virtual platforms. While there was an increased capacity to communicate at local, national and international levels, gaps in equitable access to training and partnership opportunities at universities and organizations have emerged. This essay explores the experiences and reflections of 16 IKTRN trainees during the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic at the micro (individual), meso (organizational) and macro (system) levels. The micro level, or individual experiences, focuses on topics of self-care (taking care of oneself for physical and mental well-being), maintaining research activities and productivity, and leisure (social engagement and taking time for oneself), while conducting IKT research during the pandemic. At the meso level, the role of programmes and organizations explores whether and how institutions were able to adapt and continue research and/or partnerships during the pandemic. At the macro level, we discuss implications for policies to support IKT trainees and research, during and beyond emergency situations. Themes were identified that intersected across all levels, which included (i) equitable access to training and partnerships; (ii) capacity for reflexivity; (iii) embracing changing opportunities; and (iv) strengthening collaborative relationships. These intersecting themes represent ways of encouraging sustainable and equitable improvements towards establishing and maintaining collaborative health research approaches. This essay is a summary of our collective experiences and aims to provide suggestions on how organizations and universities can support future trainees conducting collaborative research. Thus, we hope to inform more equitable and sustainable collaborative health research approaches and training in the post-pandemic era.
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