Evaluating the impact of sport and exercise psychology research partnerships: A case study of the Canadian disability participation project


Background: Research conducted with community partners (i.e., integrated knowledge translation) is scarce in sport and exercise psychology. Research-community partnerships are challenging, and there are few studies examining their impact on facilitating knowledge translation. The Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP) is a knowledge translation-focused network of research partnerships to enhance participation among people with disabilities in Canada. The purpose of this study was to explore sport and exercise CDPP members' experiences in a network of community-research partnerships. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 CDPP members (n=4 researchers, n=5 partners, and n=3 trainees). During the interviews, participants were shown network analyses of the CDPP network over time (2014-2021) and asked to reflect on their experiences in the network. Using a pragmatic approach, data were analyzed using a conventional content analysis with inductive coding. Discussions between three critical friends supported the development of categories. Results: Overall, the network analyses accurately represented members' experiences in the CDPP network. The main categories included: 1) network analysis validates values and workload, 2) growth in network requires time and relationship building, 3) CDPP allows for within-group connections, 4) leadership is key for successful networks, and 5) coordination, communication, and capacity are threats. Discussion: Researchers, partners, and trainees had positive experiences conducting sport and exercise participation research in partnership within the CDPP network. Despite challenges with coordination and communication, members held career values of conducting relational research with community impact. Researchers should aim to build relationships with community-based sport and exercise organizations to foster long-lasting research partnerships.