Volume 11, Issue 3 p. 209-216
Original Article

Capacity Development for Knowledge Translation: Evaluation of an Experiential Approach through Secondment Opportunities

Kate Gerrish RN, PhD, MSc, B.Nurs, RM,

Corresponding Author

Kate Gerrish RN, PhD, MSc, B.Nurs, RM

Professor of Nursing Research, University of Sheffield/Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK

Address correspondence to Kate Gerrish, School of Nursing and Midwifery, 387 Glossop Road, Sheffield S10 2HQ, UK; kate.gerrish@sheffield.ac.ukSearch for more papers by this author
Hilary Piercy RN, PhD, MA, RM,

Hilary Piercy RN, PhD, MA, RM

Senior Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK

Search for more papers by this author
First published: 19 May 2014
Citations: 11

This paper presents independent research by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for South Yorkshire (NIHR CLAHRC SY). The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. CLAHRC SY would also like to acknowledge the participation and resources of our partner organizations. Further details can be found at www.clahrc-sy.nihr.ac.uk.



Experiential approaches to skills development using secondment models are shown to benefit healthcare organizations more generally, but little is known about the potential of this approach to develop capacity for knowledge translation (KT).


To evaluate the success of KT capacity development secondments from the perspective of multiple stakeholders.


A pluralistic evaluation design was used. Data were collected during 2011–2012 using focus group and individual interviews with 14 clinical and academic secondees, and five managers from host and seconding organizations to gain insight into participants’ perceptions of the success of secondments and the criteria by which they judged success. Six After Action Reviews were undertaken with KT project teams to explore participants’ perceptions of the contribution secondees made to KT projects. Semistructured interviews were undertaken with three healthcare managers on completion of projects to explore the impact of secondments on the organization, staff, and patients. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify criteria for success. The criteria provided a framework through which the overall success of secondments could be judged.


Six criteria for judging the success of the secondments at individual, team, and organization level were identified: KT skills development, effective workload management, team working, achieving KT objectives, enhanced care delivery, and enhanced education delivery. Benefits to the individual, KT team, seconding, and host organizations were identified.

Implications for Practice

Hosting teams should provide mentorship support to secondees, and be flexible to accommodate secondees’ needs as team members. Ongoing support of managers from seconding organizations is needed to maximize the benefits to individual secondees and the organization.

Linking Evidence to Action

Experiential approaches to KT capacity development using secondments can benefit individual secondees, project teams, seconding, and host organizations.