Knowledge Translation: An Interactive Strategy to Enable Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors to Acquire, Apply, and Share Evidence-Based Practices

Rehabilitation Research & Training Center (RRTC-EBP VR)
Submitted by Priscilla Matthews, John Lui, Catherine A. Anderson, Erin Nierenhausen


The Rehabilitation Research & Training Center on Evidence-Based Practice in Vocational Rehabilitation (RRTC-EBP VR) developed and implemented a multimodal, multidirectional approach to translating and disseminating knowledge for use within the state–federal vocational rehabilitation (VR) system. The purpose is to increase VR counselors’ ability to acquire, apply, and share information related to evidence-based practices (EBPs) to facilitate improved employment and quality-of-employment outcomes for persons with disabilities.


The University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Wisconsin–Stout was funded in 2010 by NIDILRR to establish the RRTC-EBP VR. The RRTC engages in comprehensive, participatory-action research processes to identify, study, and exchange essential elements that contribute to successful outcomes in the state–federal VR system. A crucial element of this project is to develop knowledge translation (KT) strategies to enable practitioners to acquire, apply, and share knowledge in the VR service delivery system to ensure improved outcomes for consumers. This strategy was developed in collaboration with VR counselors and administrators, rehabilitation researchers, community partners, and people with disabilities.

KT Strategies

The RRTC-EBP VR conducted a national study in collaboration with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) to determine the incentives, barriers, and training needs of VR counselors working in the state–federal VR system. The purpose was to gather information needed to develop a strategy to enable VR counselors to more effectively acquire, apply, and share information related to EBPs in VR service delivery. Based on study results, the RRTC developed and implemented a multidirectional, multimodal KT strategy that includes the following elements:

  • A website that serves as a portal for accessing innovative knowledge and newly developed tools based on sound research
  • Interactive, web-based, plain language summaries
  • Self-paced, asynchronous training modules
  • Face-to-face training for both professionals and students
  • A web-based self-evaluation tool to guide a critical approach to applying EBPs
  • Strategic use of social media
  • Social media-based communities of practice
  • A series of web-based quizzes
  • Information dissemination via a quarterly e-mail newsletter


Participants are invited to interact with researchers and other practitioners throughout each KT mode, and information gained from their interactions is used to monitor the effectiveness of KT strategies and modify them as necessary.

The RRTC website is evaluated by users, and its effectiveness is measured through the following methods:

  • A five-star rating scale attached to each plain language summary
  • A brief questionnaire that queries users about their goals and invites them to acquire, apply, and share relevant knowledge
  • A website evaluation survey

Additional evaluation methods include measurement of the following:

  • Requests to join the RRTC-EBP-VR mailing list via the website
  • “Likes” and “shares” of social media posts related to plain language summaries and partner sources of evidence-based and promising practices
  • Requests to join the RRTC-EBP VR’s social media-based community of practice, as well as the frequency of external initiation of discussion topics
  • Frequency and nature of technical assistance questions

Lessons Learned

Social media—particularly websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter—has served as an effective tool for disseminating information to, and interacting with, stakeholders in the state–federal VR system. These platforms provide the RRTC-EBP VR with the ability to widely disseminate easily digestible chunks of information to targeted stakeholders, who can then choose to access more in-depth information, resources, and interaction through the RRTC website. To continue to meaningfully engage counselors throughout the KT process, researchers, practitioners, organizational systems, and KT delivery systems must continue to actively collaborate and monitor the effectiveness of KT strategies used and modify them as necessary for maximum impact.

Contact Information

Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education
1000 Bascom Mall, Rm 437
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 715-619-0603
Fax: 715-232-5008