Do the benefits from health research justify the resources devoted to it? Addressing this should not only meet increasing accountability demands, but could also enhance understanding of research utilisation and how best to organise health research systems to increase the benefits. The process from basic research to eventual application and patient benefit is usually complex. The use of antenatal corticosteroids when preterm delivery is expected has featured large in the debates about research utilisation and provides an insight into these complexities. Based on an analysis of previous modelling of research utilisation and payback assessment, a framework is developed in which the existing literature on the use of corticosteroids, combined with new material developed by the authors, can be reviewed and synthesised. The move from animal studies to human trials was undertaken by the same individual. Some early clinical application of the findings occurred concurrently with a series of further trials. Nevertheless, the implementation of these findings stalled rather than accelerated as is predicted by some models. The eventual systematic review of the trials played a part in the development of the Cochrane Collaboration and increased the impact on practice. Further implementation approaches were used in various countries, including clinical guidelines, a National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference, and various implementation projects within the UK. This paper shows how an assessment of the benefits from this stream of research and utilisation projects can be constructed. It concludes that the application of a model for assessing payback can help to demonstrate the benefits from the research in this field and enhance our understanding of research utilisation.