A Scoping Review to Identify and Describe Characteristics of Theories, Models and Frameworks of Health Research Partnerships


Engaging knowledge users, i.e., patients, caregivers, clinicians, policy, and decision-makers, as partners in research may lead to evidence that is more relevant to knowledge users because it involves them in setting research priorities, establishing research questions, choosing methods, collecting, and analyzing data, and disseminating and implementing the results. Such engagement may optimize evidence uptake in healthcare practice which could improve health outcomes and the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare systems. However, barriers to engagement (e.g., time) may limit knowledge user involvement as partners in research. Researchers and knowledge users have speculated that theories, models, and frameworks may help guide ways to engage knowledge users as partners, potentially minimizing some barriers to their involvement in research. However, there are few publications that have synthesized the theories, models, and frameworks of research partnerships. 


Identify and describe the characteristics of theories, models, and frameworks of health research partnerships. Identify specific concepts of knowledge user engagement represented in existing theories, models, and frameworks. 


We conducted a scoping review following established methodological frameworks. We completed database (Ovid, Embase, CINAHL, PCORI), ancestry, and snowball searches. Included articles were in English, published between January 2005 – June 2021, health focused, about a research partnership, and referred to a theory, model, or framework. We developed a coding framework a priori to facilitate data extraction. We extracted data specific to publication details, development characteristics (e.g., informed by theory, methodology, methods), purpose of theories, models, and frameworks and concepts of knowledge user engagement using a published framework by Jull et al 2019 (BMC Med Res Method 19, 211). Results were reported via descriptive statistics and narrative synthesis. 


Thirty-nine models or frameworks were identified, none about theory. Two models or frameworks (5%) were underpinned by theory. Most articles (n= 30, 77%) did not explicitly indicate which methodology was applied when developing the model or framework. Literature review (n= 11, 28%) and meetings (n= 10, 26%) were the predominant methods utilized to develop the model or framework. Guiding a partnership was the most frequently reported purpose (n=14, 36%). Predominate concepts of knowledge user engagement represented in the model or framework included ethics: principles/values (n= 36, 92%) and relational processes (n= 31, 79%). The least represented concepts of knowledge user engagement were evaluate (n= 6, 15%) and methodology (n= 1, 2%).


The identified models or frameworks could be utilized by healthcare researchers and knowledge users to enhance the involvement of knowledge users in health research partnerships. We did not find any theory of health research partnerships which may limit the ability to explain or predict successful partnerships, however the models or frameworks can guide implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of health research partnerships. Utilizing the models or frameworks we identified to engage knowledge users as partners in research may result in more relevant research, which could enhance the utilization of evidence in healthcare practice. Ultimately, this may improve patient outcomes and the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. Future research evaluating models and frameworks is necessary to determine their quality, applicability, and usability.  

Brenda Tittlemier slides

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *