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The hidden complexity of long-term care: How context mediates knowledge translation and use of best practices

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Allison Cammer
  • Debra Morgan
  • Norma Stewart
  • Katherine McGilton
  • Jo Rycroft-Malone
  • Sue Dopson
  • Carole Estabrooks
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/2014
Issue number6
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)1013-1023
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/07/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Purpose: Context is increasingly recognized as a key factor to be considered when addressing healthcare practice. This study describes features of context as they pertain to knowledge use in long-term care (LTC). Design and Methods: As one component of the research program Translating Research in Elder Care, an in-depth qualitative case study was conducted to examine the research question "How does organizational context mediate the use of knowledge in practice in long-term care facilities?" A representative facility was chosen from the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. Data included document review, direct observation of daily care practices, and interviews with direct care, allied provider, and administrative staff. Results: The Hidden Complexity of Long-Term Care model consists of 8 categories that enmesh to create a context within which knowledge exchange and best practice are executed. These categories range from the most easily identifiable to the least observable: physical environment, resources, ambiguity, flux, relationships, and philosophies. Two categories (experience and confidence, leadership and mentoring) mediate the impact of other contextual factors. Inappropriate physical environments, inadequate resources, ambiguous situations, continual change, multiple relationships, and contradictory philosophies make for a complicated context that impacts care provision. Implications: A hidden complexity underlays healthcare practices in LTC and each care provider must negotiate this complexity when providing care. Attending to this complexity in which care decisions are made will lead to improvements in knowledge exchange mechanisms and best practice uptake in LTC settings.