Research working for you- let’s talk about impact

Date:  December 19, 2022


Research working for chiropractors - let's talk about impact: Back Matters banner

The Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation (CCRF) funds research to discover the best, evidence-informed care for patients living with spinal dysfunction and disease. These investments build clinician expertise and validates the role of chiropractors as essential healthcare providers.

Now, to help all clinicians see the tangible and positive impact scientifically-sound research has made, the foundation will publish Exploring Research Impact: A CCRF Discussion Paper. Based on a series of interviews conducted with our profession’s thought leaders, this succinct, highly visual and jargon-free paper will link historic research results to important outcomes. For example, did you know the 2018 Coalition for Safe and Effective Pain Management report is being used by advocacy specialists to draw attention to opioid alternatives, such as chiropractic care?

At its core, impact is a simple concept, as the goal is to explain the demonstrable contributions research makes to society and the economy. This, in turn, helps prioritize the types of research that select groups would like to see. “When we sat down to think about the characteristics of groups that would benefit from research, we quickly established what we’re calling the 5 Ps of Research Impact”, says Robert Harris, CCRF Executive Director. “This model will be included in our new discussion paper, and we’ll be asking for feedback to see if our supporters feel we’re on the right track.”

5 P's of Research Impact: Who does research benefit chart by CCRF

CCRF’s grouping of research beneficiaries is an important first step, as in the past 15 years there’s been an increased focus by governments and policy institutes on research impact. “We need to be involved in discussions with highly regarded collaborative national networks, such as Research Impact Canada” continues Harris. “Building relationships with outcome specialists will help us identify brand new funding sources, learn more about knowledge translation and mobilization, and create fresh opportunities by engaging with leaders from other health disciplines”.  

Delving into the world of research impact is crucial, however, it’s also vital to recognize different approaches have both strengths and limitations. As a case in point, the authors of a recent review paper1 conclude (1) different approaches to impact assessment are appropriate in different circumstances, (2) the most robust and sophisticated approaches are labor-intensive and not always feasible or affordable, (3) though most metrics tend to capture direct and proximate impacts, more indirect and diffuse elements of the research-impact link can and should be measured; and (4) studies about research impact is a developing field with new methodologies on the horizon. All of this is to say that while the overall aims of research impact are clear, implementation requires careful planning, continuous learning and a good grasp of the various indicators that measure results. 

So why is research impact important to clinicians? It’s directly important to improve patient care and provide reliable evidence of the safety of chiropractic interventions. It’s implicitly important to underpin changes in support for the profession, as insurers and health ministry representatives require the data-driven evidence (e.g., cost-benefit analysis, utilization studies) that well-designed research can provide. 

If you would like to know more about CCRF’s work in the emerging area of research impact please contact and sign up to receive an electronic copy of the soon to be released Exploring Research Impact discussion paper. It’s a fascinating time to be exploring dynamic new research ideas and your foundation would welcome your voice!           

1.Research impact: A narrative review

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