Reimer-Kirkham, S., & Jule, A. (2014). Crosstalk: Public cafés as places for knowledge translation concerning health care research. Health Communication, (ahead-of-print), 1-8. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2013.868398
This article explores the use of public cafés as a model for knowledge translation and community engagement. We base our discussion on a public café series organized around the theme of access to health care and held in three neighborhoods in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. The cafés were part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Café Scientifique program.
Our purposes for this series of cafés were threefold: (a) to provide a site of communication to connect research with members of the public, (b) to build a network among participants based on common connections to the local community, and (c) to explore through discussion how gendered and raced perspectives concerning access to health care may influence the lived experiences of Canadians today. We intended to promote an intergroup conversation, based on the assumption that people of First Nations descent, newcomers to Canada (whether through immigration or resettlement), and settlers (such as Euro-Canadians) would all benefit from hearing each other’s perspectives on access to health care, as well as presentations by invited academics about their research on access to health care. A form of “crosstalk” emerged in the cafés, mediated by gender and ethnicity, where social differences and geographical distances between various groups were not easily bridged, and yet where opportunity was created for inclusive dialogic spaces. We conclude that knowledge translation is not easily accomplished with the café format, at least not with the type of critical knowledge we were aiming to translate and the depth of engagement we were hoping for. Our experiences highlighted three strategies that facilitate knowledge translation: relationships and shared goals; involvement of policymakers and decision makers; and tending to social relations of power.