Research impact

In order to gauge the impact of our research, the Institute for Work & Health tracks and reports on the uptake and use of our research by stakeholders within the health and safety system.

How we measure impact

The measurement of our impact is guided by the IWH Research Impact Model, shown below. This model recognizes that the immediate outcomes of research, such as journal articles, research summaries and media mentions, are fairly easy to track. However, the intermediate and longer-term outcomes of research—that is, policy and practice changes that eventually result in improved outcomes—are difficult to track.

This model was developed in 2010 by Cindy Moser, a member of the Institute's communications team. For a detailed explanation of the model, see the article "A research impact model for work and health" by Institute knowledge transfer and exchange and communications experts, which was published online in November 2020 by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine,


Our research impact case studies

One way we gauge impact is through case studies, which tell the story of how research informed the activities of particular stakeholders. We assign a “type” to our case studies, based upon the model’s framework.

Type 1 case studies: Evidence of the diffusion of research

The degree to which IWH research is noticed and referred to by external stakeholders in the occupational health and safety system―e.g. policy-makers, health and safety associations, employer groups, unions, clinicians and workplaces―in their own deliberations and information vehicles.

Type 2 case studies: Evidence of research informing decision-making

The degree to which IWH research is acted upon by external stakeholders in developing and changing legislation, policies, directives and programs that have an impact (often through intermediaries) on workplaces, as well as the degree to which evidence-based practices suggested by IWH research are taken up directly by workplaces or clinicians.

Type 3 case studies: Evidence of societal impact

The degree to which IWH research contributes to improvements at the societal level, including changes in: work injury/illness rates; workers’ compensation and other insurance claims, durations and costs; healthy workforce outcomes; and population health status.

The last level of impact, Type 3, is hard to measure because of issues surrounding attribution (the degree to which a societal impact can be clearly attributed to research) and time lag (the length of time it takes for research findings to get published, noticed, acted upon and have an effect).

Latest case studies

A New Zealand construction worker holding papers looking off-camera with a city skyline behind

Construction safety org adapts IWH research messages for tradesworker audience

A key program from Construction Health and Safety New Zealand—developed using IWH research—takes a participatory ergonomics approach to better prevent and manage musculoskeletal injuries among construction workers.

IWH evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ontario working-at-heights training standard

An IWH study on the effectiveness of Ontario's mandatory training was helpful to the labour ministry in several ways—including in reinforcing the value of program evaluations.
A worker drives a forklift in a lumber mill

Following reports by IWH and others, B.C. amends the law to strengthen protections against claim suppression

After an IWH study filled a research gap on claim suppression in B.C. and helped make the case for change, the province amended legislation to strengthen protections against the practice.
hands raised in training session

Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba uses IWH research to update its “Return to Work Basics” workshop

When the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba decided to update its return-to-work training, it wanted to build confidence in the content by including evidence-based guidance from trusted sources. For a key part of the workshop, it turned to the Institute for Work & Health's "Seven Principles."
Construction work on the new Victoria Bridge in downtown Saskatoon

Saskatchewan’s construction safety group uses IWH’s safety culture tool to measure OHS among member employers

When the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association went looking for a tool to measure the OHS performance of its members firms, it turned to the Institute's easy-to-use, eight-item safety culture measure—the IWH-OPM.