Dissemination of public health research to prevent non-communicable diseases: a scoping review

Heidi Turon, Luke Wolfenden, Meghan Finch, Sam McCrabb, Shaan Naughton, Sean R O'Connor, Ana Renda, Emily Webb, Emma Doherty, Eloise Howse, Cheryce L Harrison, Penelope Love, Natasha Smith, Rachel Sutherland, Sze Lin Yoong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background Dissemination is a critical element of the knowledge translation pathway, and a necessary step to ensure research evidence is adopted and implemented by key end users in order to improve health outcomes. However, evidence-based guidance to inform dissemination activities in research is limited. This scoping review aimed to identify and describe the scientific literature examining strategies to disseminate public health evidence related to the prevention of non-communicable diseases.

Methods Medline, PsycInfo and EBSCO Search Ultimate were searched in May 2021 for studies published between January 2000 and the search date that reported on the dissemination of evidence to end users of public health evidence, within the context of the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Studies were synthesised according to the four components of Brownson and colleagues' Model for Dissemination of Research (source, message, channel and audience), as well as by study design.

Results Of the 107 included studies, only 14% (n = 15) directly tested dissemination strategies using experimental designs. The remainder primarily reported on dissemination preferences of different populations, or outcomes such as awareness, knowledge and intentions to adopt following evidence dissemination. Evidence related to diet, physical activity and/or obesity prevention was the most disseminated topic. Researchers were the source of disseminated evidence in over half the studies, and study findings/knowledge summaries were more frequently disseminated as the message compared to guidelines or an evidence-based program/intervention. A broad range of dissemination channels were utilised, although peer-reviewed publications/conferences and presentations/workshops predominated. Practitioners were the most commonly reported target audience.

Conclusions There is a significant gap in the peer reviewed literature, with few experimental studies published that analyse and evaluate the effect of different sources, messages and target audiences on the determinants of uptake of public health evidence for prevention. Such studies are important as they can help inform and improve the effectiveness of current and future dissemination practices in public health contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number757
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded in part by a NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence - National Centre of Implementation Science (NCOIS) grant (APP1153479), and a NSW Cancer Council Program grant (G1500708). LW is supported by an NHMRC Investigator Grant (G1901360). SN is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (RE-FRESH) (APP1152968). SO’C was supported by the Irish Health Research Board and the HSC Public Health Agency (Grant number CBES-2018-001) in association with Evidence Synthesis Ireland/Cochrane Ireland. CLH is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council CRE Health in Preconception and Pregnancy Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship (APP1171142). RS is supported by a Medical Research Future Fund Investigator Fellowship (APP1194768) and a Hunter New England Clinical Research Fellowship funded by Hunter Medical Research Institute Aubrey Crawley Fellowship. SLY was supported by a Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship (ref no:106654) from the National Heart Foundation of Australia. The opinions, analysis, and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the NHMRC.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Noncommunicable Diseases
  • Obesity
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Research Design
  • Prevention
  • Dissemination
  • Non-communicable disease
  • Scoping review
  • Public health


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