Applying a framework to assess the impact of cardiovascular outcomes improvement research
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Background: Health and medical research funding agencies are increasingly interested in measuring the impact of funded research. We present a research impact case study for the first four years of an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council funded Centre of Research Excellence in Cardiovascular Outcomes Improvement (2016–2020). The primary aim of this paper was to explore the application of a research impact matrix to assess the impact of cardiovascular outcomes improvement research. Methods: We applied a research impact matrix developed from a systematic review of existing methodological frameworks used to measure research impact. This impact matrix was used as a bespoke tool to identify and understand various research impacts over different time frames. Data sources included a review of existing internal documentation from the research centre and publicly available information sources, informal iterative discussions with 10 centre investigators, and confirmation of information from centre grant and scholarship recipients. Results: By July 2019, the impact on the short-term research domain category included over 41 direct publications, which were cited over 87 times (median journal impact factor of 2.84). There were over 61 conference presentations, seven PhD candidacies, five new academic collaborations, and six new database linkages conducted. The impact on the mid-term research domain category involved contributions towards the development of a national cardiac registry, cardiovascular guidelines, application for a Medicare Benefits Schedule reimbursement item number, introduction of patient-reported outcome measures into several databases, and the establishment of nine new industry collaborations. Evidence of long-term impacts were described as the development and use of contemporary management for aortic stenosis, a cardiovascular risk prediction model and prevention targets in several data registries, and the establishment of cost-effectiveness for stenting compared to surgery. Conclusions: We considered the research impact matrix a feasible tool to identify evidence of academic and policy impact in the short- to midterm; however, we experienced challenges in capturing long-term impacts. Cost containment and broader economic impacts represented another difficult area of impact to measure.
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