The importance of assessing knowledge, attitudes and beliefs

The value of knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs
  • Providers' knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the new practice/intervention can play a crucial role in the extent to which the practice/intervention is used (Cook et al., 2015).
  • Providers' perceptions of an intervention may act as a barrier or facilitator to its implementation (Aarons, 2006; Henggeler et al., 2008; Jensen-Doss et al., 2009).
  • Providers' knowledge, attitudes and beliefs may influence whether they are willing to try the new practice/intervention, how they are presented to persons/patients, and the providers' willingness to continue using them if challenges arise (Cook et al., 2015).

Why measure knowledge, attitudes and beliefs when monitoring knowledge use?

  • Adoption of a new practice or intervention is significantly related to health-care providers' knowledge as well as attitude.
  • By recognizing that health-care providers may not view the new practice or intervention as compatible with their existing practices, or are resistant to the new practice or intervention, can allow you to address these issues up front (Cook et al., 2015).
  • Validated and reliable measures of health-care providers' knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of the new knowledge, practice, or intervention can give insight into how it is being understood and perceived.

The table below displays examples of how knowledge, attitudes and behaviours are measured, and their corresponding outcomes that represent knowledge use.

Type of outcome Ways to document outcome When outcome is likely to be evident
Changed knowledge
  • Tests or quizzes of specific content.
  • Self-reported familiarity with knowledge (i.e., on surveys).
  • Observations of people using knowledge in appropriate contexts.
  • After a health-care provider has had the chance to acquire new knowledge, learn a new practice/skill, or intervention.
Attitudes aligned with knowledge
  • Self-reported feelings or beliefs about specific topics (i.e., on surveys or in interviews).
  • Observations of people adopting attitudes towards different situations.
  • Quizzes or assessments of providers' feelings, beliefs, or preferences.
  • After an individual has gained knowledge or there has been a change in their environment that improves their outlook.
  • During a program, as new situations arise.
Behaviour aligned with knowledge
  • Observations of how providers act in different situations.
  • Self-reported behaviors, such as frequency or likelihood to engage in different activities.
  • Activity logs.
  • After the circumstances surrounding the individual promote new behaviors

SOURCES: RNAO, 2012; The Improve Group, 2010