Tool: Is Research Working for You?

Find Out How to Make Research Work for You 


While we hear a lot about getting evidence into practice, it is actually a complex process that involves various disciplinary approaches, beliefs, values and world views.[i] To improve their organizations' capacity for evidence-informed decision making, three Ontario health units had the opportunity to try out a tool - "Is Research Working for You?" - as part of a "Partnerships for Health System Improvement" project, working with Health Evidence™ at McMaster University. The tool, designed by the former Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF) - now the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) - uses self-assessment to help organizations understand their ability to use research. Four consultants at Toronto Public Health, including Julie Charlebois, a health promotion consultant, were part of the project team.

Toronto Public Health worked through the entire tool, devoting 1.5 hours to a structured discussion about all aspects of evidence-informed decision making: acquire, assess, adapt and apply. The tool can help organizations identify weaknesses in their decision-making processes, and uncover the functions and skills of colleagues in other departments. It can be very useful in developing knowledge translation strategies.

According to Julie, "The tool is really thorough. Had we sat down and talked about how we gather and use evidence, I don't think we would have had as full a discussion as we did by using the tool." Research supports the fact that the discussion is key to success, sometimes even more important than the ranking that results.[ii] [iii]

Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CHFI) is considering revising the tool to eliminate some of the limitations identified by users, including the use of jargon and the time required to complete the tool.  The revised version would also allow for different responses from individual as well as organizational perspectives.

According to Maria Judd, Senior Director of Innovation and Development at Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CHFI), "The power of the tool is in structuring a process for discussion and self-reflection for an organization - asking, 'Do we have appropriate human and structural resources in place to support the use of research in decision making?'"

[i] Speller V, Wimbush E, Morgan A (2005). Evidence-based health promotion practice: how to make it work Promotion & Education March 2005 12: 15-20, [cited April 15, 2013] online at:

[ii] Kothari A, Edwards N, Hamel N, Judd M (2009). Is Research Working for You? Validating a tool to examine the capacity of health organizations to use research, Implementation Science 2009, 4:46. [cited April 15, 2013] online at:

[iii] Thornhill J, Judd M, Clements D (2009). CHSRF Knowledge Transfer: (Re)Introducing the Self-Assessment Tool That Is Helping Decision-Makers Assess Their Organization's Capacity to Use Research. Healthcare Quarterly, 12(1) January 2009. [cited May 16, 2013] online at:



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