The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’s translational research contributes to ‘closing the gap’ in health between Indigenous and other Australians by informing practice and policy in Indigenous health. It does this by making the knowledge generated by various types of research and other information readily accessible to people working and studying in the area of Indigenous health.
Access to the best, up-to-date knowledge and information is being increasingly recognised as crucial to ‘bridging the gap between what is known and what is actually being done’ in health. The Institute of Medicine reached a similar conclusion after its recent review of the health care system in the United States: the system ‘frequently falls short in its ability to translate knowledge into practice’. The report commented on the chasm ‘between the health care we have and the care we could have’.
Recognition of the need to translate knowledge into policy and practice is not new however, with terms such as research utilisation, knowledge utilisation, research transfer, knowledge transfer, implementation science, and, more recently, knowledge translation having been used in recent decades to describe the process. The term ‘translational research’ has emerged recently as a potentially integrative description for these various terms. None of the earlier terms has been used widely in Australia, but ‘translational research’ appears to be gathering some momentum, including its use by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).