Evaluating the impact of applied prevention research centres: results from a modified Delphi approach

Cameron Willis, Barbara Riley, Lisa Stockton, Sarah Viehbeck, Sonia Wutzke, John Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Applied prevention research centres (APRC) are important parts of public health efforts to prevent chronic disease and promote healthy living. How to measure their practical impacts upon society remains poorly understood. This study aimed to identify indicators considered by a diverse set of stakeholders to be most important for capturing the practical impacts of APRCs (outside of contributions to new knowledge); and, to identify opportunities for adaptation and further development of measures for these most important indicators. A modified Delphi approach was used to gather the perspectives of centre leaders, funders and knowledge users associated with 36 APRCs from diverse international settings. An initial set of 22 decision making and capacity development indicators were gathered from existing research impact frameworks. During a three round Delphi process, panelists rated these indicators on importance and feasibility, proposed refinements to existing indicators and developed new indicators. Only those indicators rated above average on importance were retained between rounds. This process identified eight indicators that were rated as highly important and highly feasible for collection, such as the number of APRC projects driven by policy needs, the number and quality of knowledge exchange activities, and citations of APRC research in public policy documents. Seven indicators were rated as highly important but with low feasibility, such as measures of APRC reputation, evidence of contributions to the field of prevention research, and the influence of the APRC’s work over time on the knowledge, skills and commitment of policy and practice partners. These indicators may be suitable for future methods development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)in press
JournalResearch Evaluation
Issue number2
Early online date2 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 May 2017


  • Prevention; research evaluation


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