Development of Evaluation Tools for Dietitians of Canada’s Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN) Service

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Hemming, Janet Maureen
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Background: Evidence-based practice (EBP) uses the best available research evidence, in combination with clinical expertise and client values, to guide practice decisions (1). Dietitians recognize the benefits of using an evidence-based approach, but do not routinely incorporate it into their practice (2, 3). Lack of time and the skills needed to find and critically evaluate the published research are cited as barriers to adopting evidence-based practice (3). The knowledge translation and transfer (KTT) process can assist in bridging the gap between evidence and practice (4). In September 2005, Dietitians of Canada (DC) launched Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN), an online evidence-based knowledge translation/transfer (KTT) service for dietetic practice. PEN must be evaluated to determine if the service meets the needs of users and to assess its effectiveness as a KTT tool for incorporating evidence-based knowledge into dietetic practice. Objective: The aim of this research was to develop two evaluation tools for PEN: a webbased questionnaire to collect demographic and quality assurance data (PEN Evaluation Questionnaire) and a set of interview questions to evaluate PEN as medium for KTT and its impact on dietetic practice (PEN Evaluation Interview Guide). Methods: The questionnaire was developed using a structured four-step process. An advisory panel (n=14) validated the researcher-developed questionnaire and guided the development of its online format. The resulting questionnaire was pilot tested with a purposive sample (n=19) of PEN subscribers and non-subscribers. The interview guide was developed with the assistance of an expert panel (n=7) using a three round modified Delphi process. Results: The questionnaire development process resulted in a 46 item web-based questionnaire to collect demographic and quality assurance data on the PEN service. The findings confirm that successful questionnaire development requires the use of a systematic approach including a comprehensive review of face and content validity. The Delphi process was successful in bringing together a diverse group of experts with extensive knowledge in KTT and EBP to produce an interview guide containing open-ended questions focusing on respondents’ understanding of evidence-based practice and PEN, the use of PEN by dietitians and other disciplines, the perception of the quality/usefulness of PEN and barriers and facilitators to PEN use. Conclusions: Quantitative and qualitative evaluation tools, validated by experts in the KTT and dietetics fields, will provide a comprehensive evaluation of PEN’s impact on practice and its effectiveness as a KTT tool and ensure the quality and relevance of the data collected. This research adds to the limited body of knowledge regarding the formal evaluation of online evidence systems and KTT strategies.
Evaluation , Canada , Evidence-based medicine , Dietetics , Practice , Databases , PEN