Submissions List TBI Interagency Conference

KT process for systematic reviews: Grading research quality for stakeholder organizations

  • Farkas, Marianne
  • Rogers, Sally


Knowledge Translation


Helping stakeholders organizations reach their membership with good quality disability research information involves appropriately grading the quality of the research to support informed decision, as well as developing formats usable by organizations to support their dissemination. This 10 minute presentation will review a grading scheme and KT process used across disability research fields. 


While bridging science to practice has proven to be a long-standing problem in many fields (Fixsen et al., 2005; Farkas et al., 2003), it is only over the past decade that the field of KT has attempted to develop solutions for this problem (Mitton et al., 2007).  Early efforts in KT were focused mainly on the issue of simple exposure to information, however, NIDRR’s proposed Long-Range Plan, (NIDRR, 2009), emphasizes that the ultimate goal of KT is to improve the lives of people with disabilities and further their participation in society. Overcoming what is sometimes called the “Know-Do” gap (World Health Organization, 2005) requires a complex, interactive process, rather than the traditional simple transfer of information (Baumbusch et al., 2008; Farkas & Anthony, 2007; Farkas et al., 2003; Sudsawad, 2007). Despite the emerging emphasis on KT, many of the obstacles that created the gap between science and service (e.g., lack of congruence between dissemination and utilization strategies and their intended goals, lack of planning and resources allocated to overcoming the gaps; existence of ‘two [separate] communities’: researchers and users) identified more than 30 years ago (Caplan, 1979; Hamilton et al, 1975; Switzer, 1965) persist in current practice (Farkas & Anthony, 2007; Institute of Medicine, 2006).

 Standards to evaluate the quality of research began taking hold about two to three decades ago as the number of individual studies burgeoned and the conclusions from these disparate studies needed to be synthesized to inform treatment protocols (Starr & Chalmers, 2003) and to promote more effective and standardized care (Goodman, 2003). With the EBP movement, there was growing awareness of the importance of synthesizing research that met a defined level of quality, and having experts agree practice guidelines from them. As a result of this emphasis, there has been remarkable growth in systems to rate the quality of health research, so much so that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (2002) undertook an examination of these rating systems. The agency concluded that three major criteria should be used to evaluate new knowledge or research: quality, quantity, and consistency. High quality studies, with consistent findings and in sufficient numbers are required to increase confidence in the findings and to use those findings to promulgate best practice guidelines. With these rating systems, professionals and laypersons have a means by which to judge evidence-based health information. Systems for grading and synthesizing research in areas other than health care have developed as well including a spinoff of the Cochrane group (the Campbell Collaborative,, the federally funded National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP; which focuses on mental health and substance abuse, and the What Works Clearinghouse, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, evaluates research on educational curricula. With recent DRRP funding, the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation has developed its own website to disseminate systematic reviews and corresponding syntheses on rehabilitation interventions for various disability groups (www.bu. edu/drrk).

This presentation will present the  KT process as it was applied to working with stakeholder organizations as an obvious audience for research information,  beginning with the grading scheme developed with NIDRR funding for reviewing the quality of  program evaluation, policy or survey research, pre-post and correlational human subjects design disability research as well as the KT process developed along with it to reach stakeholder organizations and association.