When a piece of ‘evidence’ is generated in the research environment and almost nobody hears about it, then can we really still call it a piece of ‘evidence’? Does evidence only become evidence once it is used; and until then, is it just a piece of insignificant information? As we inexorably travel through the EBVM era, we must increasingly prioritise effective dissemination of evidence. This paper will use the VetCompass Programme at the Royal Veterinary College as a case study to explore a strategic dissemination plan and examine routes for effective dissemination.
Although EBVM traditionally assumes an audience of academics or practicing veterinarians, the authors contend that substantial welfare gains can be additionally achieved by targeting current and future pet owners, the non-owner general public, industry, welfare bodies, scientific groups, breeders and kennel clubs. Effective dissemination should be strategic and give a priori consideration to identifying target audiences, appropriate formatting of the messages and open access routes for dissemination. Scientists who generate EBVM may not always be best placed to also disseminate these messages and therefore research teams should consider widening their combined skill-base to also incorporate marketing and media savvy.
The VetCompass Programme is a new and hugely exciting project that shares de-identified primary-practice clinical data for research to support effective evidence based veterinary medicine and welfare reforms. VetCompass data collection commenced in 2009 and the current 470 collaborating primary-care practices have shared data on 4 million small animals and 45 million unique episodes of care. VetCompass has 15 peer-reviewed publications to date.
In order to maximise the welfare gains from an array of evidence silos generated within VetCompass, a dissemination strategy was designed based on a Systems Thinking approach. The outcomes from a range of dissemination trials within VetCompass will be discussed to highlight the most effective vehicles for individual audiences. Traditional dissemination vehicles include peer-reviewed publications and conference talks but the authors will explore the utility of online interactive tools, poster infographics, social media, YouTube, newspaper, TV and radio in addition to engagement via embedding key groups within primary research itself. Effective dissemination pathways must be realistic within the resources available, and ideally should also enhance future evidence generation.
For maximally effective EBVM, it is no longer enough to assume that if we build it, they will come. Instead, we must take our evidence to the audience.