Evaluating the relevance, generalization, and applicability of research: issues in external validation and translation methodology

Eval Health Prof. 2006 Mar;29(1):126-53. doi: 10.1177/0163278705284445.


Starting with the proposition that "if we want more evidence-based practice, we need more practice-based evidence," this article (a) offers questions and guides that practitioners, program planners, and policy makers can use to determine the applicability of evidence to situations and populations other than those in which the evidence was produced (generalizability), (b) suggests criteria that reviewers can use to evaluate external validity and potential for generalization, and (c) recommends procedures that practitioners and program planners can use to adapt evidence-based interventions and integrate them with evidence on the population and setting characteristics, theory, and experience into locally appropriate programs. The development and application in tandem of such questions, guides, criteria, and procedures can be a step toward increasing the relevance of research for decision making and should support the creation and reporting of more practice-based research having high external validity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design*