Research impact

In order to gauge the impact of our research, the Institute for Work & Health tracks and reports on the uptake and use of our research by stakeholders within the health and safety system.

How we measure impact

The measurement of our impact is guided by the IWH Research Impact Model, shown below. This model recognizes that the immediate outcomes of research, such as journal articles, research summaries and media mentions, are fairly easy to track. However, the intermediate and longer-term outcomes of research—that is, policy and practice changes that eventually result in improved outcomes—are difficult to track.

 

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Our research impact case studies

One way we gauge impact is through case studies, which tell the story of how research informed the activities of particular stakeholders. We assign a “type” to our case studies, based upon the model’s framework.

 

Type 1 case studies: Evidence of the diffusion of research
The degree to which IWH research is noticed and referred to by external stakeholders in the occupational health and safety system―e.g. policy-makers, health and safety associations, employer groups, unions, clinicians and workplaces―in their own deliberations and information vehicles.

Type 2 case studies: Evidence of research informing decision-making
The degree to which IWH research is acted upon by external stakeholders in developing and changing legislation, policies, directives and programs that have an impact (often through intermediaries) on workplaces, as well as the degree to which evidence-based practices suggested by IWH research are taken up directly by workplaces or clinicians.

Type 3 case studies: Evidence of societal impact
The degree to which IWH research contributes to improvements at the societal level, including changes in: work injury/illness rates; workers’ compensation and other insurance claims, durations and costs; healthy workforce outcomes; and population health status.

The last level of impact, Type 3, is hard to measure because of issues surrounding attribution (the degree to which a societal impact can be clearly attributed to research) and time lag (the length of time it takes for research findings to get published, noticed, acted upon and have an effect).

Latest case studies

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IWH research raises awareness of the economic burden of asbestos-related disease as Canada commits to ban

An IWH study estimating the lifetime cost of newly diagnosed cases of mesothelioma and lung cancer due to work-related asbestos exposures in a single year garnered much media and public interest, and was cited by Canadian government in its analysis of the impact of its regulation banning asbestos.
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Concerns about newcomers’ safety at work lead organizations to IWH toolkit

Organizations working with recent immigrants are incorporating parts of the Institute's toolkit for teaching newcomers about workplace health and safety into their programming. Organizations in Ontario, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunuvaut, and even as far away as Australia, say the resource is just what they were looking for.
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IWH model on breakthrough change used as foundation for WSPS small business strategy

An Ontario health and safety association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, turned to the Institute's model of breakthrough change to inform its approach to small business, especially the concept of finding the "knowledge transformation leader" within a small business to advocate for occupational health and safety change.
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WHO guidelines on rehabilitation in health systems informed by IWH systematic reviews

When the World Health Organization released its evidence-based guideline to help primarily low- and middle-income countries develop, extend equitably deliver rehabilitation services, it relied on evidence synthesized by an IWH research team for five of the guideline's nine recommendations.
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Seven “principles” used in return-to-work policies and practices

When Ontario legislated in 1997 that employers and workers cooperate in the early and safe return to work of injured workers, the workplace parties were looking for guidance. They found it in the Institute for Work & Health's evidence-based Seven "Principles" for Successful Return to Work, one of the most popular and widely used guides developed by the Institute.
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