Turning knowledge into action

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:20 July 2022
Owner:Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID)
Who this is for:Analysts

Policy and decision making should be based on evidence and information, but sometimes there is a disconnect between decision making and the evidence.

To avoid this disconnect, data needs to be put into clearer formats that can be understood more easily. The data can then be put into context and linked to wider knowledge sources. This provides decision makers with more insight into a topic. Knowledge to Action (K2A) makes this more effective.

What we mean by Knowledge to Action (K2A)

K2A is a process that has been developed by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID). It encourages people to use a wide range of data sources and information to prompt action or change.

The process has been successfully tried and tested by OHID. They have worked to make sure their products meet the needs of their users. Their products include data reports, dashboards, slide decks, and interactive tools.

The K2A process:

  • encourages and supports analysts to design accessible publications
  • prompts analysts to create products for different users
  • helps analysts to make sure their users get the right information at the right time, and in the right format

There are six activities that are used to support the K2A process. These activities are awareness building, stakeholder agreement, communication, accessibility, facilitating interaction, and skill building. They are all used to make sure that:

  • users have the skills to be able to use the publication
  • users think the product is useful
  • users know about the work and how to access it
  • users have input into the design of the final product
  • relevant structures and processes are in place to ensure action can be taken in response to the publication

The K2A cycle

The K2A process is supported by the K2A cycle. The K2A cycle is made up of 4 stages, with continuous user engagement throughout all stages of the cycle.

The infographic shows the K2A cycle represented as a circle. The circle is divided into the 4 stages of the cycle: scope, plan, implement, and evaluate.

Stage 1: Scope

Assess user needs, and think about the problems you are trying to solve with your work. Prioritise the subjects you will need to address.

Stage 2: Plan

Identify some possible solutions to the problems you are trying to solve. Review all the different solutions and decide on the best ones to use.

Stage 3: Implement

Use the best solutions to solve problems for your users. Monitor whether the solutions are effective as the project progresses.

Step 4: Evaluate

Evaluate your work. Think about the lessons you have learned from the project.

K2A Essentials

The K2A Essentials are pieces of guidance that supports users in the K2A process. There are four questions to help you think about whether your product is:

  • reaching the right audience
  • available at the right time
  • in the right format
  • and contain the right messages

It is important to work out who your audience is at the start of your project and for each audience ask 4 important questions which focus on who, why, what and how.

  • who do we need to work with to reach this audience?
  • why are we doing this work?
  • why is our work important to this audience?
  • what are the main messages?
  • what message is important to this audience?
  • how will we communicate the main messages to this audience?
  • what communication methods can we use to share our message?

It is also important to think about timing. Are there specific deadlines, meetings, or publication dates to work around? Are we expecting any other publications to be released at the same time? Could they distract people from our work? Or could they support our work?

Using K2A Essentials

Use this practical checklist for each audience you identify. Organise your findings to help you develop your Knowledge to Action plan. You should create a Knowledge to Action plan at the beginning of any project. It will help to develop the final piece of work.

Ideally the checklist should not be completed by one person. It should be completed by a project team.

Before you start your project, you should ask yourself:

  • what is your project title?
  • what is the issue you want to address?
  • what are your timescales?
  • when do you want to put this plan into action?

Make sure your timelines make sense for the target audience. Are there other things happening at that time that will affect your plan?

Now use the framework which concentrates on 4 important questions: who, why, what and how.

Question 1: WHO

Ask yourself:

  • who is your target audience? – if you have more than one target audience you could start with the most important one, and then go back through the questions for each different audience where is your audience from? – this could include their organisation or geographical area who is your audience in that organisation? –they could be people like politicians, policy makers, managers, or clinicians what would you like them to do? – you might want them to be an advocate, champion, or user of your product

Question 2: WHY

Ask yourself:

  • why are you doing this work?
  • why is this work important to this audience?
  • why should your audience see or use this product?
  • what knowledge do you want to communicate?
  • why is this product meaningful to your audience?

You should think about what you want to achieve by communicating these messages to your audience. Do you want to:

  • change the attitudes, behaviour, or practice of your audience
  • engage stakeholders
  • create interest or awareness
  • influence policy or action
  • share knowledge, experience or tools
  • authorise or defend a point of view

Question 3: WHAT

It is important to have a clear vision of the main message you want to communicate, and the lessons you want to share. Ask yourself:

  • what messages do you want to communicate? what level of detail does your audience need?
  • what type of knowledge does your audience need? – they might need general content, advice about how to use your product, or advice about how to interpret data

Question 4: HOW

Ask yourself:

how will you communicate your message to your audience? what strategies will help you reach your users? You should also think about why you are choosing these strategies to reach your audience. Why are they the best strategies for you, or your audience? Think about:

  • what resources you have available
  • whether the information you are trying to communicate is simple or complex
  • how connected your target audience is to the information you are trying to communicate

Evaluation of the process

Think about why you are doing this project. Do you have the time and resources that you will need to achieve your aims?

Have you identified measurable goals to help you understand the impact of this project? These could include measuring:

  • reach – including downloads, requests, distribution, or media exposure
  • how useful your audience found your project – you could ask them whether it helped them gain knowledge, or changed their views
  • how people have used the information in your project – people might use it to inform policy, develop training, do research, or improving their own practice

You might also look at whether your project has led to:

  • partnerships and users working together – your users might use the information from your project to help develop other work
  • a new program or service being delivered
  • new policy being agreed
  • more awareness about your topic – this can be measured quantitatively and qualitatively
  • a change in attitude about your topic – this can be measured quantitatively and qualitatively
  • a change to the systems and processes in your topic area – this can be measured quantitatively and qualitatively


You can access the K2A eLearning module on the eLearning for Healthcare website. You will need to register for an account to be able to access the course.

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