Is Research Working for You? Validating a Tool to Examine the Capacity of Health Organizations to Use Research

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Background: 'Is research working for you? A self-assessment tool and discussion guide for health services management and policy organizations', developed by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, is a tool that can help organizations understand their capacity to acquire, assess, adapt, and apply research. Objectives were to: determine whether the tool demonstrated response variability; describe how the tool differentiated between organizations that were known to be lower-end or higher-end research users; and describe the potential usability of the tool. Methods: Thirty-two focus groups were conducted among four sectors of Canadian health organizations. In the first hour of the focus group, participants individually completed the tool and then derived a group consensus ranking on items. In the second hour, the facilitator asked about overall impressions of the tool, to identify insights that emerged during the review of items on the tool and to elicit comments on research utilization. Discussion data were analyzed qualitatively, and individual and consensus item scores were analyzed using descriptive and non-parametric statistics. Results: The tool demonstrated good usability and strong response variability. Differences between higher-end and lower-end research use organizations on scores suggested that this tool has adequate discriminant validity. The group discussion based on the tool was the more useful aspect of the exercise, rather than the actual score assigned. Conclusion: The tool can serve as a catalyst for an important discussion about research use at the organizational level; such a discussion, in and of itself, demonstrates potential as an intervention to encourage processes and supports for research translation.

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