Background: Research funding agencies continue to grapple with assessing research impact. Theoretical frameworks are useful tools for describing and understanding research impact. The purpose of this narrative literature review was to synthesize evidence that describes processes and conceptual models for assessing policy and practice impacts of public health research. Methods: The review involved keyword searches of electronic databases, including MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, EBM Reviews, and Google Scholar in July/August 2013. Review search terms included ‘research impact’, ‘policy and practice’, ‘intervention research’, ‘translational research’, ‘health promotion’, and ‘public health’. The review included theoretical and opinion pieces, case studies, descriptive studies, frameworks and systematic reviews describing processes, and conceptual models for assessing research impact. The review was conducted in two phases: initially, abstracts were retrieved and assessed against the review criteria followed by the retrieval and assessment of full papers against review criteria. Results: Thirty one primary studies and one systematic review met the review criteria, with 88% of studies published since 2006. Studies comprised assessments of the impacts of a wide range of health-related research, including basic and biomedical research, clinical trials, health service research, as well as public health research. Six studies had an explicit focus on assessing impacts of health promotion or public health research and one had a specific focus on intervention research impact assessment. A total of 16 different impact assessment models were identified, with the ‘payback model’ the most frequently used conceptual framework. Typically, impacts were assessed across multiple dimensions using mixed methodologies, including publication and citation analysis, interviews with principal investigators, peer assessment, case studies, and document analysis. The vast majority of studies relied on principal investigator interviews and/or peer review to assess impacts, instead of interviewing policymakers and end-users of research. Conclusions: Research impact assessment is a new field of scientific endeavour and there are a growing number of conceptual frameworks applied to assess the impacts of research.
MILAT, Andrew J.; BAUMAN, Adrian E.; REDMAN, Sally. A narrative review of research impact assessment models and methods. Health Research Policy and Systems, v.13, n.18, p. 2-7, 2015.