Tool: Is research working for you?

A Summary of

Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. (2014). Is research working for you? A self-assessment tool and discussion guide for health services management and policy organizations. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement.


This tool aims to help an organization evaluate its strengths and gaps related to research application, and to incorporate research in its plans. Public health organizations must make structural, service and financial decisions in a rapidly changing, complex environment (CHSRF, 2005). In a political climate that emphasizes governance and accountability structures, using research to complement decision making is essential. The “Is research working for you?” tool assesses the organization’s capacity to use research evidence, including the availability of evidence; the ability to assess evidence quality; and the capability to disseminate evidence for decision-making (Thornhill, Judd, & Clements, 2009). This tool emphasizes the organization’s capacity to plan and evaluate research use, not the individual practitioner’s capacity to apply evidence to practice. While this tool was not created originally for public health, it can be used by decision-makers to identify how a public health organization looks for evidence, the ability of its staff to assess the quality and relevance of that evidence, and the ability of the organization to create user-friendly methods to disseminate that evidence.

Access the Tool

Format of the Tool


  • English
  • French


On-line Access


Not Specified

Using the Tool

Time for Participation/Completion

Information not available

Additional Resources and/or Skills Needed for Implementation

Upon completion of this tool, other resources available to the organization to help enhance its use of evidence. These resources are interactive including workshops and case studies.

Steps for Using Method/Tool

Complete the tool’s four categories to assess the organization’s capacity to use research:

  1. Acquire: Can your organization find and obtain the research findings it needs?
  2. Assess: Can your organization assess research findings to ensure they are reliable, relevant and applicable to you?
  3. Adapt: Does your organization present the research to decision-makers in a useful way?
  4. Apply: Are there skills, structures, processes and a culture in your organization to promote and use research findings in decision-making? Each question in each category is rated from 1 to 5; 1 indicating that an organization has a low capacity to assess and use research evidence, and 5 indicating that an organization is well-equipped to assess and use research evidence.

The cross-organizational discussion can be more valuable than the actual answer reached.

Who is involved

This tool for planning and evaluating an application is completed through discussion by decision-makers and interested individuals within the organization (known as cross-organizational discussion).

Conditions for Use


Evaluation of the Tool


Has been evaluated.

An evaluation of this tool was completed which involved 32 focus groups across Canada with a variety of health service organizations. The evaluation tested the “user friendliness” of the tool, the ability of the tool to identify resources for research, and group consensus (Thornhill et al., 2009). The results of this evaluation show that the tool has good usability and strong response variability in long-term care, non-governmental and community-based organizations (Kothari, Edwards, Hamel & Judd, 2009). This means that the tool is valuable in assessing the skills and resources needed for research use. However, the tool was less useful in the government sector, suggesting that additional tailoring of the instrument may be needed (Kothari, Edwards, Hamel & Judd, 2009). Furthermore, this tool can distinguish between organizations that frequently use research relative to lower-use organizations. This was evident in differences in their scores, suggesting the tool has adequate discriminant validity.


Validity properties meet accepted standards.

Face and content validity were completed using 32 focus groups across four sectors of Canadian health care organizations (Thornhill, et al., 2009). The scale was modified based on results. The tool was re-launched for use after this evaluation (CHSRF, 2005). Further discussion of the tool’s validation process will be released in an upcoming peer-reviewed publication (Thornhill et al., 2009).


Information not available

Methodological Rating

Unknown/No evidence

Development of the Tool


Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement

Method of Development

Information not available.

Release Date


Contact Person/Source

Canadian Foundation for Health Improvement
1565 Carling Avenue, Suite 700
Ottawa, ON K1Z 8R1
Phone: (613) 728-2238
Fax: (613) 728-3527

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

Have you used this resource? Share your story!