Content Area Overviews
Though much progress has been made, there continues to be a gap between the production of disability and rehabilitation research and its use by service providers, policymakers, and people with disabilities and their families. Resolving this gap would serve to increase the benefits from high quality research that can do much to improve health, quality of life, and productivity of those with disabilities.
The NCDDR has organized NIDRR grantees to identify, examine, and discuss important issues regarding the involvement of under-represented groups in research studies, the utilization of research outcomes, and strategies for effective outreach, in a Community of Practice (COP). Communities of Practice are "groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis" (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002, p. 4).
Knowledge translation (KT) is a term that is closely related to dissemination or diffusion; however, most scholars draw an important distinction—KT is a much broader concept and places a significant emphasis on the issue of research quality and the implementation of research evidence within a system (Davis, Evans, Jadad, Perrier, Rath, Ryan et al., 2003; cited in NCDDR, 2006). KT is an appropriate process and strategy to address and reduce the gap between "what is known" and "what is currently done" in practice settings (Davis et al., 2003; Grol & Grimshaw, 2003; Grol & Jones, 2000; cited in NCDDR, 2006).
A logic model is a tool that can help analyze the relationship between part of a program or project and its intended outcomes. Logic models can also help focus critical measures of performance for evaluation purposes. Logic models describe the assumptions and activities upon which a program or project is expected to reach a specific result. Logic models can be very helpful in clarifying staff roles and in identifying realistic expectations for outcomes.
Quality research most commonly refers to the scientific process encompassing all aspects of study design; in particular, it pertains to the judgment regarding the match between the methods and questions, selection of subjects, measurement of outcomes, and protection against systematic bias, nonsystematic bias, and inferential error (Boaz & Ashby, 2003; Lohr, 2004; Shavelson & Towne, 2002). The NCDDR conducts several activities and services to facilitate and promote high quality NIDRR-sponsored research, including technical publications and interactive consulting services on research design.
Reporting scientific research is an essential component of the research and knowledge translation process (KT). Knowledge translation is facilitated when research is reported and communicated with sufficient depth and accuracy for readers to interpret, synthesize, and utilize the study findings. NCDDR conducts activities, and offers numerous resources and services to enhance and facilitate the reporting of high quality research.
A research registry is a system for collecting information on specific research studies and maintaining it in a structured record. Research registries are used to record and maintain documentation on study abstracts, designs (e.g., randomized trials), funding (e.g., from NIDRR), research study status, results, and/or research volunteer opportunities. Research registries, often described as databases, vary in disciplinary focus and are increasing in popularity and use for consumers and providers in health and function domains such as medicine, rehabilitation, dentistry, nursing, and education.
An increasing focus and emphasis on evidence-based information and practices is occurring in almost all sectors today. Service providers, policymakers, and people with disabilities and their families are asking more and more the question "what works". What do we actually know across a range of related research studies? Standards of evidence are usually applied to assess the quality and rigor of individual research studies to determine the findings that should be included (or excluded) from an evidence pool of related findings. Through systematic review processes, it is possible to show, across a series of high quality research studies, what the results in the evidence pool indicate about "what works."
A systematic review is a review of all available related research studies that are focused on a single question/area. Through a systematic review process you can identify, appraise, select and synthesize all high quality research evidence relevant to that question. Systematic reviews are generally regarded as the highest level of determining evidence that can be used to establish what is called evidence-based practices or approaches. An understanding of systematic reviews and how to implement their results is becoming mandatory for many professional groups. Increased access to evidence-based information determined through systematic reviews can benefit consumers with disabilities and their families, service providers, policymakers, and others.