As suggested in this case study, the decision on the provision of the iodine supplement was made from inception, while evidence from a rapid review and survey played a crucial role in addressing the need for timely evidence on the most suitable iodine-containing preparation.
Rapid reviews and syntheses of selected pieces of information are commonly conducted in response to pressure from decision-makers who frequently need to make decisions in short time periods [2
]. Although questions have arisen regarding the appropriateness and transparency of these methodologies in comparison to full reviews, it has been argued that they can still play an important role in evidence-informed decision-making, and emphasis should be placed on their appropriate use [20
]. Evidence has shown that the results of rapid and full reviews are not much different, although the scope of the former is narrower [21
]. Since the evidential needs of the iodine case deliberations were specifically related to appropriate formulation and dosage, a rapid review appears to be a suitable approach to support policymaking in this instance.
Given the short time available for conducting the survey, the exclusion of non-RTCOG practitioners such as nurses, midwives, and family physicians, all of whom have also provided antenatal care, may imply that maternal iodine supplement prescribers are not perfectly represented. However, specialist physicians have a high influence on other health professionals and patients in Thailand [22
]; therefore, the survey targeted this group in order to engage them in the future policy implementation.
In addition, the right timing and timeliness of providing research results is critical to foster research utilization as argued in Lavis et al. [4
]. In the same vein, this case study suggests that HITAP researchers were able to provide relevant evidence to policymakers and key stakeholders in a timely fashion. This paper also reveals that the pro-active identification of evidence requirements during ongoing policy processes might be a key factor facilitating evidence uptake and strengthening trust and interactive relationships between policymakers and researchers.