Within Canadian Aboriginal communities, the process for utilizing environmental health research evidence in the development of policies and programs is not well understood. This fundamental qualitative descriptive study explored the perceptions of 28 environmental health researchers, senior external decision-makers and decision-makers working within Aboriginal communities about factors influencing knowledge transfer and exchange, beliefs about research evidence and Traditional Knowledge and the preferred communication channels for disseminating and receiving evidence. The results indicate that collaborative relationships between researchers and decision-makers, initiated early and maintained throughout a research project, promote both the efficient conduct of a study and increase the likelihood of knowledge transfer and exchange. Participants identified that empirical research findings and Traditional Knowledge are different and distinct types of evidence that should be equally valued and used where possible to provide a holistic understanding of environmental issues and support decisions in Aboriginal communities. To facilitate the dissemination of research findings within Aboriginal communities, participants described the elements required for successfully crafting key messages, locating and using credible messengers to deliver the messages, strategies for using cultural brokers and identifying the communication channels commonly used to disseminate and receive this type of information.
environmental health; research utilization; knowledge transfer; Aboriginal; qualitative
This paper addresses a fundamental question in evidence based policy making—can scientists and policy makers work together? It first provides a scenario outlining the different mentalities and imperatives of scientists and policy makers, and then discusses various issues and solutions relating to whether and how scientists and policy makers can work together. Scientists and policy makers have different goals, attitudes toward information, languages, perception of time, and career paths. Important issues affecting their working together include lack of mutual trust and respect, different views on the production and use of evidence, different accountabilities, and whether there should be a link between science and policy. The suggested solutions include providing new incentives to encourage scientists and policy makers to work together, using knowledge brokers (translational scientists), making organisational changes, defining research in a broader sense, re-defining the starting point for knowledge transfer, expanding the accountability horizon, and finally, acknowledging the complexity of policy making. It is hoped that further discussion and debate on the partnership idea, the need for incentives, recognising the incompatibility problems, the role of civil society, and other related themes will lead to new opportunities for further advancing evidence based policy and practice.
There is an emerging body of literature suggesting that the evidence-practice divide in health policy is complex and multi-factorial but less is known about the processes by which health policy-makers use evidence and their views about the specific features of useful evidence. This study aimed to contribute to understandings of how the most influential health policy-makers view useful evidence, in ways that help explore and question how the evidence-policy divide is understood and what research might be supported to help overcome this divide.
A purposeful sample of 18 national and state health agency CEOs from 9 countries was obtained. Participants were interviewed using open-ended questions that asked them to define specific features of useful evidence. The analysis involved two main approaches 1)quantitative mapping of interview transcripts using Bayesian-based computational linguistics software 2)qualitative critical discourse analysis to explore the nuances of language extracts so identified.
The decision-making, conclusions-oriented world of policy-making is constructed separately, but not exclusively, by policy-makers from the world of research. Research is not so much devalued by them as described as too technical— yet at the same time not methodologically complex enough to engage with localised policy-making contexts. It is not that policy-makers are negative about academics or universities, it is that they struggle to find complexity-oriented methodologies for understanding their stakeholder communities and improving systems. They did not describe themselves as having a more positive role in solving this challenge than academics.
These interviews do not support simplistic definitions of policy-makers and researchers as coming from two irreconcilable worlds. They suggest that qualitative and quantitative research is valued by policy-makers but that to be policy-relevant health research may need to focus on building complexity-oriented research methods for local community health and service development. Researchers may also need to better explain and develop the policy-relevance of large statistical generalisable research designs. Policy-makers and public health researchers wanting to serve local community needs may need to be more proactive about questioning whether the dominant definitions of research quality and the research funding levers that drive university research production are appropriately inclusive of excellence in such policy-relevant research.
Evidence translation; Evidence-practice divide; Evidence for policy; Local community health research
Health policy and systems research (HPSR), which aims to produce reliable and rigorous evidence to inform the many critical decisions that must be made about health systems, is a new concept in Nigeria. In this study, policy makers and other stakeholders in the health sector identified the challenges and the potential intervention strategies to HPSR evidence use in policy making in Nigeria. The major challenges identified included capacity constraints at individual and organizational levels, communication gaps and poor networking between policy makers and researchers, and the non-involvement of healthcare recipients in identifying and planning care delivery needs. The main solutions suggested included promotion of strategies to encourage partnership between researchers and policy makers, improvement of staff incentives and facilities for research activities, improved budgetary provision for research, and sustainable institutional capacity development. These strategies have been shown to improve evidence-based policy making in developed countries and are likely to produce better outcomes in the developing world.
Increased interest in the potential societal benefit of incorporating health economics as a part of clinical translational science, particularly nutrition interventions, led the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health to sponsor a conference to address key questions about economic analysis of nutrition interventions to enhance communication among health economic methodologists, researchers, reimbursement policy makers, and regulators. Issues discussed included the state of the science, such as what health economic methods are currently used to judge the burden of illness, interventions, or health care policies, and what new research methodologies are available or needed to address knowledge and methodological gaps or barriers. Research applications included existing evidence-based health economic research activities in nutrition that are ongoing or planned at federal agencies. International and U.S. regulatory, policy and clinical practice perspectives included a discussion of how research results can help regulators and policy makers within government make nutrition policy decisions, and how economics affects clinical guideline development.
cost-benefit analysis; primary prevention; nutrition policy; medical economics; nutrition therapy
There has been a growing interest over recent years, both within Australia and overseas, in enhancing the translation of research into policy and practice. As one mechanism to improve the dissemination and uptake of falls research into policy and practice and to foster the development of policy-appropriate research, a "Falls Translation Task Group" was formed as part of an NHMRC Population Health Capacity Building grant. This paper reports on the group's first initiative to address issues around the research to policy and practice interface, and identifies a continuing role for such a group.
A one day forum brought together falls researchers and decision-makers from across the nation to facilitate linkage and exchange. Observations of the day's proceedings were made by the authors. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire at the commencement of the forum (to ascertain expectations) and at its completion (to evaluate the event). Observer notes and the questionnaire responses form the basis of analysis.
Both researchers and decision-makers have a desire to bridge the gap between research and policy and practice. Significant barriers to research uptake were highlighted and included both "health system barriers" (for example, a lack of financial and human resources) as well as "evidence barriers" (such as insufficient economic data and implementation research). Solutions to some of these barriers included the identification of clinical champions within the health sector to enhance evidence uptake, and the sourcing of alternative funding to support implementation research and encourage partnerships between researchers, decision-makers and other stakeholders.
Participants sought opportunities for ongoing networking and collaboration. Two activities have been identified as priorities: establishing a "policy-sensitive" research agenda and partnering researchers and decision-makers in the process; and establishing a National Translation Task Group with a broad membership.
The ethics of research continue to attract considerable debate, particularly when sponsored by partners from the North and carried out in the South. Ethical research should contribute to social value in the country where research is being carried out, but there is significant debate around how this might be achieved, and who is responsible. The literature suggests that researchers might employ two inter-related strategies to maximise social value: collaborative partnerships with policy makers and communities from the outset of research, and dissemination of research results to participants, policy makers and implementers once the research is over. These areas have received relatively little empirical attention. In this study we carried out 40 in-depth interviews to explore the role of collaborative partnerships in health research priority setting, and the way in which research findings are disseminated to aid policy making and implementation in Kenya. Interviewees included policy makers, researchers, policy implementers and representatives of organisations funding health reforms in Kenya. Two policy issues were drawn upon as tracers wherever possible: 1) the introduction of Artemesinin- based Combination Therapies (ACTs); an anti malarial treatment policy; and 2) Haemophilus Influenzae (Hib) vaccine for the prevention of Pneumococcal diseases among children.
The findings point to significant gaps in the research to policy to practice pathway, particularly for national research institutions with a focus on clinical/biomedical research. These gaps reflect poorly effective partnerships among stakeholders, and limit the potential social value of much research. While more investment is needed to establish strong structures for promoting and directing collaboration and partnership how to target this investment is not entirely clear, especially in the context of considerable power of the global health agenda and the financial flows for research tied to it.
The evidence base for improving reproductive health continues to grow. However, concerns remain that the translation of this evidence into appropriate policies is partial and slow. Little is known about the factors affecting the use of evidence by policy makers and clinicians, particularly in developing countries. The objective of this study was to examine the factors that might affect the translation of randomised controlled trial (RCT) findings into policies and practice in developing countries.
The recent publication of an important RCT on the use of magnesium sulphate to treat pre-eclampsia provided an opportunity to explore how research findings might be translated into policy. A range of research methods, including a survey, group interview and observations with RCT collaborators and a survey of WHO drug information officers, regulatory officials and obstetricians in 12 countries, were undertaken to identify barriers and facilitators to knowledge translation.
It proved difficult to obtain reliable data regarding the availability and use of commonly used drugs in many countries. The perceived barriers to implementing RCT findings regarding the use of magnesium sulphate for pre-eclampsia include drug licensing and availability; inadequate and poorly implemented clinical guidelines; and lack of political support for policy change. However, there were significant regional and national differences in the importance of specific barriers.
The policy changes needed to ensure widespread availability and use of magnesium sulphate are variable and complex. Difficulties in obtaining information on availability and use are combined with the wide range of barriers across settings, including a lack of support from policy makers. This makes it difficult to envisage any single intervention strategy that might be used to promote the uptake of research findings on magnesium sulphate into policy across the study settings. The publication of important trials may therefore not have the impacts on health care that researchers hope for.
The issue of the allocation of resources in health care is here to stay. The goal of this study was to explore the views of physicians on several topics that have arisen in the debate on the allocation of scarce resources and to compare these with the views of policy makers. We asked physicians (oncologists, cardiologists, and nursing home physicians) and policy makers to participate in an interview about their practices and opinions concerning factors playing a role in decision making for patients in different age groups. Both physicians and policy makers recognised allocation decisions as part of their reality. One of the strong general opinions of both physicians and policy makers was the rejection of age discrimination. Making allocation decisions as such seemed to be regarded as a foreign entity to the practice of medicine. In spite of the reluctance to make allocation decisions, physicians sometimes do. This would seem to be only acceptable if it is justified in terms of the best interests of the patient from whom treatment is withheld.
This commentary introduces the HARPS supplement on getting research into policy and practice in sexual and reproductive health (SRH). The papers in this supplement have been produced by the Sexual Health and HIV Evidence into Practice (SHHEP) collaboration of international research, practitioner and advocacy organizations based in research programmes funded by the UK Department for International Development.
The commentary describes the increasing interest from research and communication practitioners, policy makers and funders in expanding the impact of research on policy and practice. It notes the need for contextually embedded understanding of ways to engage multiple stakeholders in the politicized, sensitive and often contested arenas of sexual and reproductive health. The commentary then introduces the papers under their respective themes: (1) The theory and practice of research engagement (two global papers); (2) Applying policy analysis to explore the role of research evidence in SRH and HIV/AIDS policy (two papers with examples from Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia); (3) Strategies and methodologies for engagement (five papers on Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Swaziland respectively); (4) Advocacy and engagement to influence attitudes on controversial elements of sexual health (two papers, Bangladesh and global); and (5) Institutional approaches to inter-sectoral engagement for action and strengthening research communications (two papers, Ghana and global).
The papers illustrate the many forms research impact can take in the field of sexual and reproductive health. This includes discursive changes through carving out legitimate spaces for public debate; content changes such as contributing to changing laws and practices, procedural changes such as influencing how data on SRH are collected, and behavioural changes through partnerships with civil society actors such as advocacy groups and journalists.
The contributions to this supplement provide a body of critical analysis of communication and engagement strategies across the spectrum of SRH and HIV/AIDS research through the testing of different models for the research-to-policy interface. They provide new insights on how researchers and communication specialists can respond to changing policy climates to create windows of opportunity for influence.
The ethics of research continue to attract considerable debate, particularly when that research is sponsored by partners from the North and carried out in the South. Ethical research should contribute to social value in the country where research is being carried out, but there is significant debate around how this might be achieved and who is responsible. The literature suggests that researchers might employ two inter-related strategies to maximise social value: collaborative partnerships with policy makers and communities from the outset of research, and dissemination of research results to participants, policy makers and implementers once the research is over. These areas have received relatively little empirical attention. In this study, we carried out 40 in-depth interviews to explore the role of collaborative partnerships in health research priority setting, and the way in which research findings are disseminated to aid policy making and implementation in Kenya. Interviewees included policy makers, researchers, policy implementers and representatives of organisations funding health reforms in Kenya. Two policy issues were drawn upon as tracers wherever possible: (1) the introduction of Artemesinin- based Combination Therapies (ACTs), an anti-malarial treatment policy; and (2) Haemophilus influenzae (Hib) vaccine for the prevention of pneumococcal diseases among children.
The findings point to significant gaps in the ‘research to policy to practice’ pathway, particularly for national research institutions with a focus on clinical/biomedical research. These gaps reflect poorly effective partnerships among stakeholders and limit the potential social value of much research. While more investment is needed to establish strong structures for promoting and directing collaboration and partnership, how to target this investment is not entirely clear, especially in the context of the considerable power of the global health agenda and the research financing tied to it.
Kenya; Ethics; Social value; Research benefits; Collaborative research
Public health includes policy, practice and research but to sufficiently connect academic research, practice and public health policy appears to be difficult. Collaboration between policy, practice and research is imperative to obtaining more solid evidence in public health. However, the three domains do not easily work together because they emanate from three more or less independent 'niches'.
Work cycles of each niche have the same successive steps: problem recognition, approach formulation, implementation, and evaluation, but are differently worked out. So far, the research has focused on agenda-setting which belongs to the first step, as expressed by Kingdon, and on the use of academic knowledge in policy makers' decision-making processes which belongs to the fourth step, as elaborated by Weiss. In addition, there are more steps in the policy-making process where exchange is needed.
A qualitative descriptive research was conducted by literature search. We analyzed the four steps of the policy, practice and research work cycles. Next, we interpreted the main conflicting aspects as disconnections for each step.
There are some conspicuous differences that strengthen the niche character of each domain and hamper integration and collaboration. Disconnections ranged from formulating priorities in problem statements to power roles, appraisal of evidence, work attitudes, work pace, transparency of goals, evaluation and continuation strategies and public accountability. Creating awareness of these disconnections may result in more compatibility between researchers, policy makers and practitioners.
We provide an analysis that can be used by public health services-related researchers, practitioners and policy makers to be aware of the risk for disconnections. A synthesis of the social, practical and scientific relevance of public health problems should be the starting point for a dialogue that seeks to establish a joint approach. To overcome the above mentioned disconnections, face-to-face encounters consistently emerge as the most efficient way to transfer knowledge, achieve higher quality and acknowledge mutual dependence. We recommend practice and policy based research networks to establish strong links between researchers, policy makers and practitioners to improve public health.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) launched the National Reproductive Health Policy in 2005, which included recommendations regarding the use of emergency contraceptive pills (ECP). However, ECP have not yet been introduced officially in the public sector of the Lao PDR. Thus, their availability is limited. Understanding the knowledge of ECP and attitudes about their provision, barriers to use, and availability among health providers and policy makers is essential to successfully incorporate ECP into reproductive health services.
Qualitative research methods using in-depth interviews were employed to collect data from policy makers and health providers (auxiliary medical staff, nurses, and medical doctors). Altogether, 10 policy makers, 22 public providers, and 10 providers at private clinics were interviewed. Content analysis was applied to analyze the transcribed data.
The majority of policy makers and health care providers had heard about ECP and supported their introduction in the public sector. However, their knowledge was poor, many expressed inconsistent attitudes, and their ability to meet the demand of potential users is limited.
There is a need to train health providers and policy makers on emergency contraception and improve their knowledge about ECP, especially regarding the correct timing of use and the availability of methods. In addition, the general public must be informed of the attributes, side effects, and availability of ECP, and policy makers must facilitate the approval of ECP by the Lao Food and Drug Administration. These interventions could lead to increased access to and demand for ECP.
Confidential product listing agreements (PLAs) negotiated between pharmaceutical manufacturers and individual health care payers may contribute to unwanted price disparities, high administrative costs, and unequal bargaining power within and across jurisdictions. In the context of Canada’s decentralized health system, we aimed to document provincial policy makers’ perceptions about collaborative PLA negotiations.
We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with a senior policy maker from nine of the ten Canadian provinces. We conducted a thematic analysis of interview transcripts to identify benefits, drawbacks, and barriers to routine collaboration on PLA negotiations.
Canadian policy makers expressed support for joint negotiations of PLAs in principle, citing benefits of increased bargaining power and reduced inter-jurisdictional inequities in drug prices and formulary listings. However, established policy institutions and the politics of individual jurisdictional authority are formidable barriers to routine PLA collaboration. Achieving commitment to a joint process may be difficult to sustain among heterogeneous and autonomous partners.
Though collaboration on PLA negotiation is an extension of collaboration on health technology assessment, it is a very significant next step that requires harmonization of the outcomes of decision-making processes. Views of policy makers in Canada suggest that sustaining routine collaborations on PLA negotiations may be difficult unless participating jurisdictions have similar policy institutions, capacities to implement coverage decisions, and local political priorities.
Prescription drugs; Reimbursement mechanisms; Risk sharing; International cooperation; Canada
The concept of the Knowledge Translation Platform (KTP) provides cohesion and leadership for national–level knowledge translation efforts. In this review, we discuss nine key lessons documenting the experience of the Zambia Forum for Health Research, primarily to inform and exchange experience with the growing community of African KTPs. Lessons from ZAMFOHR’s organizational development include the necessity of selecting a multi-stakeholder and -sectoral Board of Directors; performing comprehensive situation analyses to understand not only the prevailing research-and-policy dynamics but a precise operational niche; and selecting a leader that bridges the worlds of research and policy. Programmatic lessons include focusing on building the capacity of both policy-makers and researchers; building a database of local evidence and national-level actors involved in research and policy; and catalyzing work in particular issue areas by identifying leaders from the research community, creating policy-maker demand for research evidence, and fostering the next generation by mentoring both up-and-coming researchers and policy–makers. Ultimately, ZAMFOHR’s experience shows that an African KTP must pay significant attention to its organizational details. A KTP must also invest in the skill base of the wider community and, more importantly, of its own staff. Given the very real deficit of research-support skills in most low-income countries – in synthesis, in communications, in brokering, in training – a KTP must spend significant time and resources in building these types of in-house expertise. And lastly, the role of networking cannot be underestimated. As a fully-networked KTP, ZAMFOHR has benefited from the innovations of other KTPs, from funding opportunities and partnerships, and from invaluable technical support from both African and northern colleagues.
Knowledge translation platform; Networking; Zambia; ZAMFOHR; Synthesis; Brokering; Communications; Capacity building
Unsafe and illegal abortions are the third leading cause of maternal death. It affects physical, emotional and social health of women and their families. Abortion is a multi-dimensional phenomenon with several social, legal, and religious implications. The views of policy-makers affect the approach to abortion in every society. Understanding the attitudes and knowledge of high-ranking decision makers towards abortion was the purpose of this study.
Materials and Methods
A qualitative research was implemented by carrying out individual interviews with 29 out of a selection of 80 presidents of medical sciences universities, senior executive managers in the legal system, forensic medicine and decision-makers in the health system and a number of top Muslim clerics, using a semi-structured questionnaire for data gathering. Content analysis revealed the results.
There were considerable unwillingness and reluctance among the interviewees to participate in the study. The majority of participants fairly knew about the prevalence of illegal abortions and their complications. There was strong agreement on abortion when health of the mother or the fetus was at risk. Abortion for reproductive health reasons was supported by a minority of the respondents. The majority of them disagreed with abortion when pregnancy was the result of a rape, temporary marriage or out of wedlock affairs. Making decision for abortion by the pregnant mother, as a matter of her right, did not gain too much approval.
It seemed that physical health of the mother or the fetus was of more importance to the respondents than their mental or social health. The mother's hardship was not any indication for induced abortion in the viewpoints of the interviewed policy-makers. Strengthening family planning programs, making appropriate laws in lines with religious orders and advocacy programs targeting decision makers are determined as strategies for improving women's health rights.
Abortion; Attitude; Decision makers; Fetus; Reproductive right; Sex preference; Women's health
This paper outlines stakeholder views on environmental barriers that prevent people who live with psychosocial disability from participating in mental health policy development in South Africa.
Fifty-six semi-structured interviews with national, provincial and local South African mental health stakeholders were conducted between August 2006 and August 2009. Respondents included public sector policy makers, professional regulatory council representatives, and representatives from non-profit organisations (NPOs), disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), mental health interest groups, religious organisations, professional associations, universities and research institutions.
Respondents identified three main environmental barriers to participation in policy development: (a) stigmatization and low priority of mental health, (b) poverty, and (c) ineffective recovery and community supports.
A number of attitudes, practices and structures undermine the equal participation of South Africans with psychosocial disability in society. A human rights paradigm and multi-system approach is required to enable full social engagement by people with psychosocial disability, including their involvement in policy development.
Psychosocial disability; Rights; Participation barriers; Policy development; South Africa
This article is part of a series written for people responsible for making decisions about health policies and programmes and for those who support these decision makers.
Policy dialogues allow research evidence to be considered together with the views, experiences and tacit knowledge of those who will be involved in, or affected by, future decisions about a high-priority issue. Increasing interest in the use of policy dialogues has been fuelled by a number of factors: 1. The recognition of the need for locally contextualised 'decision support' for policymakers and other stakeholders 2. The recognition that research evidence is only one input into the decision-making processes of policymakers and other stakeholders 3. The recognition that many stakeholders can add significant value to these processes, and 4. The recognition that many stakeholders can take action to address high-priority issues, and not just policymakers. In this article, we suggest questions to guide those organising and using policy dialogues to support evidence-informed policymaking. These are: 1. Does the dialogue address a high-priority issue? 2. Does the dialogue provide opportunities to discuss the problem, options to address the problem, and key implementation considerations? 3. Is the dialogue informed by a pre-circulated policy brief and by a discussion about the full range of factors that can influence the policymaking process? 4. Does the dialogue ensure fair representation among those who will be involved in, or affected by, future decisions related to the issue? 5. Does the dialogue engage a facilitator, follow a rule about not attributing comments to individuals, and not aim for consensus? 6. Are outputs produced and follow-up activities undertaken to support action?
While the past two decades have seen a shift towards evidence-based obstetrics and midwifery, the process through which a culture of evidence-based practice develops and is sustained within particular fields of clinical practice has not been well documented, particularly in LMICs (low- and middle-income countries). Forming part of a broader qualitative study of evidence-based policy making, this paper describes the development of a culture of evidence-based practice amongst maternal health policy makers and senior academic obstetricians in South Africa
A qualitative case-study approach was used. This included a literature review, a policy document review, a timeline of key events and the collection and analysis of 15 interviews with policy makers and academic clinicians involved in these policy processes and sampled using a purposive approach. The data was analysed thematically.
The concept of evidence-based medicine became embedded in South African academic obstetrics at a very early stage in relation to the development of the concept internationally. The diffusion of this concept into local academic obstetrics was facilitated by contact and exchange between local academic obstetricians, opinion leaders in international research and structures promoting evidence-based practice. Furthermore the growing acceptance of the concept was stimulated locally through the use of existing professional networks and meetings to share ideas and the contribution of local researchers to building the evidence base for obstetrics both locally and internationally. As a testimony to the extent of the diffusion of evidence-based medicine, South Africa has strongly evidence-based policies for maternal health.
This case study shows that the combined efforts of local and international researchers can create a culture of evidence-based medicine within one country. It also shows that doing so required time and perseverance from international researchers combined with a readiness by local researchers to receive and actively promote the practice.
Study objective: To garner research leaders' perceptions and experiences of the types of evidence that influence policy on health inequalities, and their reflections on how the flow of such research evidence could be increased.
Design, setting, and participants: Qualitative two day residential workshop with senior research leaders, most of whom were currently involved in evaluations of the health effects of major policies. In four in depth sessions, facilitated by the authors in turn, focused questions were presented to participants to reveal their views and experiences concerning evidence synthesis for policy on inequalities. These were analysed thematically.
Main results: Five types of evidence for policy on health inequalities were felt to be particularly persuasive with policymakers: observational evidence showing the existing of a problem; narrative accounts of the impacts of policies from the household perspective; controlled evaluations; natural policy experiments; and historical evidence. Methods of improving the availability and use of these sources of information were put forward.
Conclusions: This paper and its companion have considered the current evidence base for policies to reduce health inequalities, and how this could be improved. There is striking congruence between the views of the researchers in this study and policy advisers in paper 1, suggesting that a common understanding may be emerging. The findings suggest significant potential for rapid progress to be made in developing both evidence based policy, and policy relevant evidence to tackle inequalities in health.
Most residents have limited education or exposure to health policy during residency.
We developed a course to (1) educate residents on health policy topics applicable to daily physician practice; (2) expose residents to health policy careers through visits with policy makers and analysts; (3) promote personal engagement in health policy.
Residents registered for a 3-week elective offered twice annually through the George Washington University Department of Health Policy.
The course format includes: daily required readings and small-group seminars with policy experts, interactive on-site visits with policy makers, and final team presentations to senior faculty on topical health policy issues.
One hundred thirty residents from 14 specialties have completed the course to date. Seventy completed our post-course survey. Most participants [59 (84%)] felt the course was very or extremely helpful. Participant self-ratings increased from pre- to post-course in overall knowledge of health policy [2 (3%) good or excellent before, 58 (83%) after], likelihood of teaching policy concepts to peers [20 (25%) vs. 62 (86%)], and likelihood of pursuing further health policy training [28 (37%) vs. 56 (82%)].
This 3-week elective in health policy improves self-reported knowledge and interest in health policy research, advocacy, and teaching.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-009-1143-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
health policy; residency education; curriculum; medical education
There appears to be considerable variation between different national jurisdictions and between different sectors of public policy in the use of evidence and particularly the use of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate non-healthcare sector programmes.
As part of a wider study attempting to identify RCTs of public policy sector programmes and the reasons for variation between countries and sectors in their use, we carried out a pilot study which interviewed 10 policy makers and researchers in six countries to elicit views on barriers to and facilitators of the use of RCTs for social programmes.
While in common with earlier studies, those interviewed expressed a need for unambiguous findings, timely results and significant effect sizes, users could, in fact, be ambivalent about robust methods and robust answers about what works, does not work or makes no difference, particularly where investment or a policy announcement was planned. Different national and policy sector cultures varied in their use of and support for RCTs.
In order to maximise the use of robust evaluations of public programmes across the world it would be useful to examine, systematically, cross-national and cross-sectoral variations in the use of different methods including RCTs and barriers to and facilitators of their use. Sound research methods, whatever their scientific value, are no guarantee that findings will be useful or used. ‘Stories’ have been shown to influence policy; those advocating the use of RCTs may need to provide convincing narratives to avoid repetition about their value.
Randomised trials; policy; barriers; levers; qualitative interviews; child health; social inequalities; social science; systematic reviews; public health; public health policy
Research findings are increasingly being recognized as an important input in the formation of health policy. There is concern that research findings are not being utilized by health policy-makers to the extent that they could be. The factors influencing the utilization of various types of research by health policy-makers are beginning to emerge in the literature, however there is still little known about these factors in developing countries. The object of this study was to explore these factors by examining the policy-making process for a pharmaceutical policy common in developing countries; an essential medicines list.
A study of the selection and updating of Mali's national essential medicines list was undertaken using qualitative methods. In-depth semi-structured interviews and a natural group discussion were held with national policy-makers, most specifically members of the national commission that selects and updates the country's list. The resulting text was analyzed using a phenomenological approach. A document analysis was also performed.
Several factors emerged from the textual data that appear to be influencing the utilization of health research findings for these policy-makers. These factors include: access to information, relevance of the research, use of research perceived as a time consuming process, trust in the research, authority of those who presented their view, competency in research methods, priority of research in the policy process, and accountability.
Improving the transfer of research to policy will require effort on the part of researchers, policy-makers, and third parties. This will include: collaboration between researchers and policy-makers, increased production and dissemination of relevant and useful research, and continued and improved technical support from networks and multi-national organizations. Policy-makers from developing countries will then be better equipped to make informed decisions concerning their health policy issues.
The process of translating research into policy has gained considerable attention in recent years and a number of studies have investigated the nexus between the two ‘worlds’ of research and policy. One issue that has been little addressed is about the boundaries between research and advocacy: how far scientists do, or should, promote particular findings to policy makers and others. This article analyses a particular intervention in malaria control and the Consortium set up to accelerate its potential implementation. Using a framework that emphasizes the interplay of interests, institutions and ideas, it provides an example of how a network of committed researchers and funders attempted to follow a rational policy process, but faced conflicts and fundamental questions about their roles in generating scientific evidence and influencing global health policy. In an era of ever more and larger researcher groups and consortia, the findings offer insights and lessons to those engaged in the process of knowledge translation.
research–advocacy–policy interface; knowledge translation; interests; ideas; institutions
Knowledge products such as clinical practice guidelines (CPG) are vitally required for evidence-based medicine (EBM). Although the EBM, to some extent, has been attended during recent years, no result has achieved thus far. The current qualitative study is to identify the barriers to establishing development system and implementation of CPGs in Iran.
Twelve semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of health policy and decision makers, the experts of development and or adaptation of CPGs, and the experts of EBM education and development. In addition, 11 policy-makers, decision-makers, and managers of the health system participated in a focus group discussion. The analysis of the study data was undertaken by thematic framework approach.
Six themes emerged in order of their frequency include practice environment, evidence-based health care system, individual professional, politician and political context, innovation (CPG) and patients. Most of the indications in the treatment environment focused on such sub-themes as regulations and rules, economical factors, organizational context, and social context.
While the barriers related to the conditions of treatment environment, service provider and the features of innovation and patients had been identified before in other studies, very little attention has been paid to the evidence-based health care system and politician and political context
The lack of an evidence-based healthcare system and a political macro support are mentioned as the key barriers in Iran as a developing country. The establishment of a system of development and implementation of CPGs as the evidence-based practice tools will not be possible, unless the barriers are removed.
Barriers; clinical practice guideline; development; health care system; implementation; qualitative study