RehabWire - Volume 9, Number 8, September 2007

Knowledge Translation

Knowledge Translation is one of three arenas of outcomes achievement in NIDRR's research program, along with Research and Development and Capacity Building.

NIDRR Grantees on the Cutting Edge.

Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), University of Washington (H133A060070), led by Kurt Johnson, PhD. Pimjai Sudsawad, ScD, Project Officer.
Abstract: The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) facilitates the dissemination of research to practice and consumer education for the model systems programs in traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), and burn injury. The MSKTC knowledge translation and dissemination efforts focus on research conducted by the model systems programs, identified best practices, and clinician and consumer education materials developed by the model systems. The MSKTC also works collaboratively with members of the MSKTC Research Advisory Board and experts in TBI, SCI, and burn injury to conduct systematic reviews of key areas of rehabilitation research relevant to the model systems projects. The MSKTC is housed within the University of Washington’s Center for Technology and Disability Studies in the Center for Human Development and Disability and builds on previously funded NIDRR knowledge translation efforts.
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National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR), Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (H133A060028), led by John Westbrook, PhD. A. Cate Miller, PhD, Project Officer.
Abstract: The goal of the National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR) is to promote the utilization of research results developed through NIDRR grants/contracts. Major areas of work of the NCDDR include: (1) Research designed to collect information that assists in identifying the needs and most likely strategies that assist in matching dissemination practices with intended user audiences. (2) Demonstration conducted to determine the effectiveness of new strategies and approaches in achieving intended dissemination and utilization outcomes. (3) Dissemination and Utilization implemented not to support the simple distribution of materials and other resources but rather the use of research outcomes in meaningful ways by those that can most benefit from their use. (4) Technical Assistance provided to NIDRR grantees to build understanding, skills, and resources related to the dissemination and utilization of their disability research outcomes.
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Sister project to NCDDR is the Research Utilization Support and Help (RUSH) Project at SEDL. The RUSH project develops and tests models for increasing the effective use of NIDRR research results. The goal is to expand awareness, strategies, and evaluation of knowledge utilization outcomes among NIDRR-supported researchers in order to increase access and use of research results by those who can benefit the most from them.
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Innovative Knowledge Dissemination and Utilization for Disability and Professional Organizations and Stakeholders, Boston University (H133A050006), led by Marianne Farkas, ScD. Pimjai Sudsawad, ScD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project is working collaboratively with the NIDRR, professional and consumer organizations, and stakeholders to develop, test, and apply a process of research standards development, implementation, and related information dissemination strategies that allows end-users in the rehabilitation field to make informed choices based on the perceived utility of the research available, and in doing so, promote utilization of rehabilitation research. The project uses well-developed standards to determine which rehabilitation research results are of sufficient rigor to be worthy of dissemination, thus establishing an ongoing, scientific, easily accessible, central resource to help professionals utilize what works in the disability field. The project has six specific goals: (1) Producing quality standards for rating rehabilitation research rigor and meaning. (2) Project staff, along with NIDRR staff, professional and constituent organizations, and other KDU projects assist in developing standard topic selection criteria and in selecting topical areas for information products. (3) Producing relevant information products describing the quality and implications of rehabilitation research studies based on the developed standards. (4) Creating and testing a prototype interactive website, The Right to Know Clearinghouse, to implement innovative dissemination strategies for key groups. (5) Evaluating the output, perceived utility, and outcomes of the KDU project using the NIDRR logic model. (6) Disseminating the project’s findings to stakeholders.

Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange (CIRRIE-2), State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo (H133A050008). led by John Stone, PhD. Eva M. Gavillan, EdD, Project Officer.
Abstract: The Center for International Research Information and Exchange (CIRRIE-2) offers a comprehensive approach to address the needs of researchers, practitioners, and consumers for research-based information from international sources. CIRRIE-2 objectives include: Expanding the existing Database of International Rehabilitation Research; developing an online multi-lingual international encyclopedia of rehabilitation in English, Spanish, and French in collaboration with the Quebec Institute for Physical Rehabilitation; sponsoring an international conference and workshops on the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF); creating a Community of Practice on the ICF; and cross mapping ICF terms to the thesaurus that is used to search both CIRRIE and REHABDATA databases. Additionally, CIRRIE develops new pre-service initiatives in the area of cultural competence for disability service providers, including: Developing a textbook and two new monographs on cultural competence for disability service providers; and conducting an international conference on Providing Culturally Competent Disability Services in collaboration with Toronto-based Joint Centre of Excellence on Research and Immigration and Settlement. CIRRIE-2 supports collaborative activities between the U.S. and other countries by conducting several international exchange programs.
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What is Knowledge Translation?
"The exchange, synthesis, and ethically-sound application of knowledge within a complex system of relationships between researchers and users."
-- NCDDR, Research Exchange, v9n2.

Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers: Coordination, Outreach, and Research Center, Virginia Commonwealth University (H133A060087), led by Brian T. McMahon, PhD. Pimjai Sudsawad, ScD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This coordination, outreach, and research center (CORC) expands and enhances the activities of the regional system of Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACs), guided by the principles of evidence-based practice and knowledge translation, with a dual emphasis on communities of practice and demand-side job placement. The CORC objectives are to: (1) improve public access to ADA information by creating a definitive ADA web site, which includes a compendium of DBTAC materials, databases, publications, products, tools, and activities; (2) create a CORC Research Review Board to coordinate, support, and review new evidence-based products and publications, including original CORC research, and assess their effectiveness and impact on policy and practice; (3) increase the research capacity of the regional DBTACs network to both conduct and utilize quality research by modeling such behavior and by providing direct and meaningful consultation to regional DBTACs to facilitate their success; (4) coordinate dissemination of regional DBTAC and CORC publications and products in concert with appropriate NIDRR research and dissemination centers; (5) translate DBTAC evidence reports, publications, and products into practice guidelines, quality improvement products, and technical assistance tools; and (6) host three planning conferences and three research conferences in order to demonstrate the added value of evidence-based practice in the DBTAC network.

EVIDAAC: A Database of Appraised Evidence in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Northeastern University (H133G070150), led by Ralf W. Schlosser, PhD. Ruth Brannon, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project develops EVIDAAC, an accessible and usable database of appraised research evidence in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for practitioners, individuals using AAC, and their families. EVIDAAC provides access to pre-filtered evidence-based practice by critically appraising studies and systematic reviews. This saves time and reduces the skill-burden associated with having to appraise evidence, a documented barrier to the utilization of EBP. EVIDAAC is developed in accordance with published quality criteria for health-related web sites using formative and process evaluation. Accessible web design principles are integrated into the development of the database, with regular assessment using Web Accessibility Initiative principles and guidelines. Its usability is tested with rigorous technologies, including structured usability tasks in controlled laboratory situations and the determination of utilization patterns in real-life circumstances via web-log analysis. Results gleaned feed back into improving the database.

ABLEDATA, ORC Macro (ED-02-CO-0038), led by Katherine Belknap. Pimjai Sudsawad, ScD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project maintains and expands the ABLEDATA product information database, develops information and referral services that are responsive to the special technology product needs of consumers and professionals, and provides the data to major dissemination points to ensure wide distribution and availability of the information to all who need it. The ABLEDATA database contains information on more than 34,000 commercially produced and custom-made assistive devices. Requests for information are answered via telephone, mail, electronic communications, or in person.
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National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC), HeiTech Services, Inc. (ED-05-CO-0007), led by Mark X. Odum. Pimjai Sudsawad, ScD, Project Officer.
Abstract: The National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) maintains a research library of more than 65,000 documents and responds to a wide range of information requests, providing facts and referral, database searches, and document delivery. Through telephone information referral and the Internet, NARIC disseminates information gathered from NIDRR-funded projects, other federal programs, and from journals, periodicals, newsletters, films, and videotapes. NARIC maintains REHABDATA, a bibliographic database on rehabilitation and disability issues, both in-house and on the Internet. Users are served by telephone, mail, electronic communications, or in person. NARIC also prepares and publishes the annual NIDRR Program Directory, available in database format from NARIC’s web site.
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Please note: These abstracts have been modified. Full, unedited abstracts, as well as any available REHABDATA citations, are available at

KDU ---> KT
In the current long range plan, NIDRR expanded Knowledge Dissemination and Utilization to the concept of Knowledge Translation. KT is a broad concept. It encompasses all steps between the creation of new knowledge and its application to yield beneficial outcomes for society, including dissemination, utilization, and management; communication; and ethical context. (Source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research)

Current Literature: Selections from REHABDATA

(2005) Focus: Technical brief number 10: What is knowledge translation? NARIC Accession Number: O16058. Project Number: H133A990008. Abstract: Knowledge translation (KT) is a relatively new term used to describe the underutilization of evidence-based research in systems of care. It involves the assessment, review, and utilization of scientific research findings in practice settings. Several planning models are presented that discuss the KT process and KT strategies. This document is available to download from or

(2006) Focus: Technical brief number 14: Overview of international literature on knowledge translation. NARIC Accession Number: O16647. Project Number: H133A060028. Abstract: This brief examines the knowledge translation (KT) process as described by several international authors. Viewing KT from an international perspective provides several models or strategies for understanding and planning the movement of evidence-based research into practice setting. The majority of these approaches consist of multiple stages or steps, including: (1) identification of quality information/research findings; (2) assessment of research findings for target system; (3) program development, program/content adaptation; (4) program implementation; (5) evaluation of knowledge utilization; and (6) sustainability, capacity building. This document is available to download from or

Farkas, M., Jette, A. (2003) Knowledge dissemination and utilization in gerontology: An organizing framework. The Gerontologist, 43(1), 47-56. NARIC Accession Number: J46133. Project Number: H133B990005; H133B990023. Abstract: Article presents a framework for dissemination and utilization of research findings in the field of gerontology. Framework identifies four strategies targeted toward the learning needs of specific users: exposure, experience, expertise, and embedding. Application of the framework to three research projects is described. This article is available to download at

Hayward, B., Schmidt-Davis, J. (2003) Annual report of activities and accomplishments 2002. NARIC Accession Number: O15400. Project Number: ED-01-CO-0052. Abstract: Report describes the activities and accomplishments of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) grant programs during fiscal year 2002. Chapters provide details for each of the priority areas in NIDRR’s research agenda. Last chapter covers NIDRR’s knowledge dissemination and utilization activities and includes information on activities in capacity building for rehabilitation research.

Sudsawad, Pimjai. (2003) Developing a social validation model for effective utilization of disability and rehabilitation research. NARIC Accession Number: O15120. Project Number: H133F020023 Abstract: Research project report examines the utility of including the concepts of social validity, ecological validity, and clinical significance in the research on outcomes of occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), and speech-language pathology (SLP) interventions for children with disabilities. The goals of the project were met by (1) a systematic literature review of outcome studies of OT, PT, and SLP interventions over the past 10 years; (2) a focus group study of OT, PT, and SLP practitioners; and (3) a national mail survey. Preliminary findings indicated that the use of social validity, ecological validity, and clinical significance in designing and conducting outcome studies would be helpful and would likely increase the use of research information by rehabilitation practitioners. The terms were used to develop the social validation model for creating outcome research.

Sudsawad, Pimjai. (2005) A conceptual framework to increase usability of outcome research for evidence-based practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT), 59(3), 351-355. NARIC Accession Number: J49149. Abstract: Article presents a conceptual model that researchers can use to create research evidence that is easier for occupational therapy practitioners to understand and use. Author uses the Diffusion of Innovations Theory as a framework to identify desirable characteristics of research information that may increase its adoption and utilization by practitioners. The concepts of social validity, ecological validity, and clinical significance are discussed as possible approaches to creating those desirable characteristics.

Changing Terms - Changing Concepts
"Knowledge translation" is a relatively new term. As such, it has been submitted and is under consideration as a new term in the Rehabdata Thesaurus. Most of the abstracts which would fall under this concept will have "Research utilization" as a keyword. When searching for related abstracts in REHABDATA, try the following terms:

  • Research utilization*, 1,045 abstracts (1956-present), 629 abstracts (1997-present)
  • Knowledge dissemination, 13 abstracts (1956-present)
  • Knowledge utilization, 28 abstracts (1956-present)
  • Technology transfer*, 344 abstracts (1956-present), 158 abstracts (1997-present)

*These terms are keywords in the Thesaurus.

Searching "knowledge translation" in other databases found:

  • PubMed, 122 abstracts
  • CIRRIE, 1 abstract
  • ERIC, 26 abstracts
  • Google Scholar, 2,280 web pages

For NIDRR, KT “involves not only knowledge validation and dissemination but also the transfer of technology, particularly products and devices, from the research and development setting to the commercial marketplace to make possible widespread utilization of the products or devices.” For more information about NIDRR and its research plan, visit and search for NIDRR.

Where Can I Find More? A quick keyword search is all you need to connect to a wealth of disability and rehabilitation research. NARIC’s databases hold more than 75,000 resources. Visit to search for literature, current and past research projects, and organizations and agencies in the US and abroad.