Background: Intervention research provides important information regarding feasible and effective interventions for health policy makers, but few empirical studies have explored the mechanisms by which these studies influence policy and practice. This study provides an exploratory case series analysis of the policy, practice and other related impacts of the 15 research projects funded through the New South Wales Health Promotion Demonstration Research Grants Scheme during the period 2000 to 2006, and explored the factors mediating impacts.Methods: Data collection included semi-structured interviews with the chief investigators (n = 17) and end-users (n = 29) of each of the 15 projects to explore if, how and under what circumstances the findings had been used, as well as bibliometric analysis and verification using documentary evidence. Data analysis involved thematic coding of interview data and triangulation with other data sources to produce case summaries of impacts for each project. Case summaries were then individually assessed against four impact criteria and discussed at a verification panel meeting where final group assessments of the impact of research projects were made and key influences of research impact identified.Results: Funded projects had variable impacts on policy and practice. Project findings were used for agenda setting (raising awareness of issues), identifying areas and target groups for interventions, informing new policies, and supporting and justifying existing policies and programs across sectors. Reported factors influencing the use of findings were: i) nature of the intervention; ii) leadership and champions; iii) research quality; iv) effective partnerships; v) dissemination strategies used; and, vi) contextual factors.Conclusions: The case series analysis provides new insights into how and under what circumstances intervention research is used to influence real world policy and practice. The findings highlight that intervention research projects can achieve the greatest policy and practice impacts if they address proximal needs of the policy context by engaging end-users from the inception of projects and utilizing existing policy networks and structures, and using a range of strategies to disseminate findings that go beond traditional peer review publications.
- Health promotion
- Intervention research