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R4: Efficacy Studies



Over the past decade, the T2RERC has transferred over forty products to the A/T marketplace, each intended to either meet an unmet need, or improve upon the features/functions of existing products for end users of A/T. We demonstrated satisfactory transfer and commercialization outcomes by having the manufacturer introduce the product into the marketplace. However, we have not yet demonstrated impacts for consumers, specifically if the transferred products are indeed improvements over existing devices. Do the new products improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities? Do they offer to consumers a viable and better alternative to methods they use, or to devices present in the market at the time the product was transferred?

We propose to conduct an efficacy-oriented research study which will determine the impact, on consumers, of several products selected from those transferred to the market through the T2RERC. To ensure that we assess efficacy in the context of consumers' functional capabilities, the WNY Independent Living Project will lead the data collection effort.

Efficacy essentially addresses the issue of effectiveness. However, in the context of impacting the functional capabilities of people with disabilities, it may be more useful to take the concept beyond effectiveness to include the product's relevance to the user in different ways. This may mean that the new products are of better technical quality, perform better, are more reliable and durable, meet more of consumer needs, and bring more satisfaction than other products. It may also mean that they cost less for what consumers perceive as benefits and therefore are of more value, thus bringing them more satisfaction. Ideally they will meet both the quality and value requirements, leading to the actual use of the product and to user satisfaction.

In this study, we propose to determine whether or not a product is an improvement over its competing alternatives by assessing both its quality and its value, as well as the product's importance to the consumer as manifested by the consumer's subsequent acceptance and use (or disuse) of the product. The basis for comparison for transferred products will be other products present in the marketplace at the time of transfer or alternative strategies used by consumers for accomplishing the designated function.

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