Closing the Gap Between Research Policy and Practice

Thursday, May 15, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
C. Ramsden1, A. Roberts2, M. Uljarevic3, S. Carrington4, L. J. White4, L. Morgan5 and S. R. Leekam6, (1)Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, (2)Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom, (3)Wales Autism Research Centre, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom, (4)Wales Autism Research Centre, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, (5)Wales Autism Research Centre, Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom, (6)Park Place, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Government policy and national practice guidelines have created an increasing need for autism services to adopt an evidence-based approach. However many practitioners and users of autism services are not aware of how to access and evaluate research evidence. At the same time, the impact of evidence produced by researchers often does not reach practice and policy. The overall goal was to create an on-line knowledge-sharing platform, the Autism Research-Policy-Practice Hub to close the gap between research, practice and policy and facilitate the co-production of knowledge. As translation of research into non-research communities raises many questions about how research knowledge will be accepted, understood and used, this study proceeded in several stages; focusing first on identifying stakeholder views about sharing of evidence-based research as reported here.


To determine the views of researchers and practitioner/policy professionals about (a) the extent of their engagement with each other (b) the main sources of knowledge that each group of professionals currently use, (c) the information and resources from research that they would like to be made available.


Initial consultation and qualitative interviews led to an online survey targeting practitioners (in areas of clinical work, education and social care), policy workers (Government and third sector) and researchers. The survey was sent to UK professionals and two international email lists. There were 683 respondents; 422 researchers, 261 practitioners.


With respect to engagement between researchers and practitioners and/or policy workers, there was a difference in perception. While nearly half of the researchers stated that they engaged with non-academic professionals (practitioners and policy-workers) a lot or quite a bit, only a quarter of the non-academic professionals gave the same response. With respect to current knowledge, the practice and policy communities described their primary source of new knowledge as coming through attending training events, and from colleagues, while for researchers, the primary source of new knowledge is research articles. However, practitioners and researchers were in agreement about what would be needed to bring research more directly into practice. This included increased accessibility of research articles and practice-based guidelines which are based on reliable research and the ability to learn to apply research methods.


Researchers depend on different knowledge sources (academic journals and research evidence) than practitioners and policy workers and have a different perception of their engagement with the non-academic community. However policy and practice communities are keen to engage with research, access research materials and learn to apply evidence-based research methods themselves. The results have been incorporated into the design and provision of resources now online in the Autism RPP Hub, http://www.autismrpphub.org. Further evaluation on useability and effectiveness of the hub is ongoing to enable adaptation to be made as the hub is used. We discuss the mismatch between the perception of researchers and non-researchers with respect to engagement with each other and consider evidence on the barriers to evidence-based practice in the field of autism.

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