Optimizing health outcomes in arthritis care: Promoting knowledge translation through digital media

Arthritis consists of more than 100 types of conditions and is the most common cause of severe chronic pain and disability in Canada, affecting 4.4 million Canadians. While effective treatments are available, they are not consistently prescribed by health professionals or used by patients. Currently, researchers and research funding agencies have focused on tailoring research findings to specific audiences via methods such as plain language summaries, education sessions, public symposia, and media events. However, the impact of this information can be limited if it is provided at a different time and place than when people need to use it. Digital media offer a range of applications – social networking tools, interactive games, animation, and video/audio recordings – that provide tremendous flexibility for delivering “just-in-time” information when and where it is needed by the user. The depth, richness, and accessibility of this information are infinitely greater when conveyed via digital media than the current methods of publishing research results.

The goal of Dr. Linda Li's research program is to optimize the health of Canadians with arthritis by studying how people make treatment decisions and by improving the use of effective treatments using innovative digital media tools. Her program focuses in three areas: 1) understanding how patients with arthritis make treatment decisions; 2) evaluating models for health professionals who provide arthritis care; and 3) developing digital media interventions and evaluating their effectiveness to improve clinical practice, treatment decisions, and patient health.

This research program focuses on improving the health outcomes of people with arthritis by harnessing the engaging power of digital media to deliver research knowledge when and where it is needed. This approach is unique because it targets both patients’ behaviors and health professional practices to help close the gaps between what we know about arthritis management and the actual use of effective treatments. This innovative combination of health and digital media will help us modernize the way we deliver evidence-based treatment information for the 21st Century.