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.

For a detailed explanation of the model, see the article "A research impact model for work and health" by Institute knowledge transfer and exchange and communications experts, which was published online in November 2020 by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine,


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

Stone arches and stain glass windows in the interior of the Canadian Parliament

IWH researchers help MPs examine episodic disabilities and work issues

IWH senior scientists presented expert testimony to a federal standing committee looking at the needs of people with episodic disabilities—an example of how research can support policy-makers in addressing important societal issues.

IWH review findings add consistency to osteoarthritis-related advice offered by WorkSafeBC medical advisors

The findings of an Institute for Work & Health systematic review on the association between osteoarthritis and work are being used by WorkSafeBC's medical advisors, contributing to more consistency in claims adjudication.

Ontario Mining Association endorses safety climate and assessment audit tool

A tool designed to measure "two sides of the coin"—OHS systems and culture—developed by Workplace Safety North with IWH expertise, has been endorsed by Ontario's mining association, and now is in demand well beyond the province and the sector.

Integrating return-to-work principles in an occupational medicine service

An occupational medicine assessment service integrated two of the return-to-work supports (enhanced coordination and communication) outlined in IWH's evidence-based Seven Principles guide, contributing to a significant improvement in the duration of wage replacement benefits among injured workers with problematic musculoskeletal disorders.

Safety culture framework in Manitoba incorporates IWH expertise, tools

SAFE Work Manitoba incorporated IWH expertise and tools into the framework of its ambitious safety culture initiative, which aims to make workplace injury prevention a genuine priority among all segments of the population across the province.