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1.  Does health intervention research have real world policy and practice impacts: testing a new impact assessment tool 
There is a growing emphasis on the importance of research having demonstrable public benefit. Measurements of the impacts of research are therefore needed. We applied a modified impact assessment process that builds on best practice to 5 years (2003–2007) of intervention research funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council to determine if these studies had post-research real-world policy and practice impacts.
We used a mixed method sequential methodology whereby chief investigators of eligible intervention studies who completed two surveys and an interview were included in our final sample (n = 50), on which we conducted post-research impact assessments. Data from the surveys and interviews were triangulated with additional information obtained from documentary analysis to develop comprehensive case studies. These case studies were then summarized and the reported impacts were scored by an expert panel using criteria for four impact dimensions: corroboration; attribution, reach, and importance.
Nineteen (38%) of the cases in our final sample were found to have had policy and practice impacts, with an even distribution of high, medium, and low impact scores. While the tool facilitated a rigorous and explicit criterion-based assessment of post-research impacts, it was not always possible to obtain evidence using documentary analysis to corroborate the impacts reported in chief investigator interviews.
While policy and practice is ideally informed by reviews of evidence, some intervention research can and does have real world impacts that can be attributed to single studies. We recommend impact assessments apply explicit criteria to consider the corroboration, attribution, reach, and importance of reported impacts on policy and practice. Impact assessments should also allow sufficient time between impact data collection and completion of the original research and include mechanisms to obtain end-user input to corroborate claims and reduce biases that result from seeking information from researchers only.
PMCID: PMC4292987  PMID: 25552272
Intervention research; Policy; Research impact; Research translation
2.  Deliberative democracy and cancer screening consent: a randomised control trial of the effect of a community jury on men's knowledge about and intentions to participate in PSA screening 
BMJ Open  2014;4(12):e005691.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening is controversial. A community jury allows presentation of complex information and may clarify how participants view screening after being well-informed. We examined whether participating in a community jury had an effect on men's knowledge about and their intention to participate in PSA screening.
Random allocation to either a 2-day community jury or a control group, with preassessment, postassessment and 3-month follow-up assessment.
Participants from the Gold Coast (Australia) recruited via radio, newspaper and community meetings.
Twenty-six men aged 50–70 years with no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer.
The control group (n=14) received factsheets on PSA screening. Community jury participants (n=12) received the same factsheets and further information about screening for prostate cancer. In addition, three experts presented information on PSA screening: a neutral scientific advisor provided background information, one expert emphasised the potential benefits of screening and another expert emphasised the potential harms. Participants discussed information, asked questions to the experts and deliberated on personal and policy decisions.
Main outcome and measures
Our primary outcome was change in individual intention to have a PSA screening test. We also assessed knowledge about screening for prostate cancer.
Analyses were conducted using intention-to-treat. Immediately after the jury, the community jury group had less intention-to-screen for prostate cancer than men in the control group (effect size=−0.6 SD, p=0.05). This was sustained at 3-month follow-up. Community jury men also correctly identified PSA test accuracy and considered themselves more informed (effect size=1.2 SD, p<0.001).
Evidence-informed deliberation of the harms and benefits of PSA screening effects men's individual choice to be screened for prostate cancer. Community juries may be a valid method for eliciting target group input to policy decisions.
Trial registration number
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12612001079831).
PMCID: PMC4281538  PMID: 25539779
PRIMARY CARE; PUBLIC HEALTH; Prostate Specific Antigen testing; Prostate Cancer
3.  A Community Jury on PSA screening: what do well-informed men want the government to do about prostate cancer screening—a qualitative analysis 
BMJ Open  2014;4(4):e004682.
Cancer screening policies and programmes should take account of public values and concerns. This study sought to determine the priorities, values and concerns of men who were ‘fully informed’ about the benefits and harms of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening; and empirically examine the value of a community jury in eliciting public values on PSA screening.
Community jury was convened on the Gold Coast, Queensland (Australia) to consider PSA screening benefits and harms, and whether government campaigns on PSA screening should be conducted.
27 men (volunteers) aged 50–70 with no personal history of prostate cancer and willing to attend jury 6–7 April 2013: 12 were randomly allocated to jury (11 attended).
Outcome measures
A qualitative analysis was conducted of the jury deliberations (audio-recorded and transcribed) to elicit the jury's views and recommendations. A survey determined the impact of the jury process on participants’ individual testing decisions compared with control group.
The jury concluded governments should not invest in programmes focused on PSA screening directed at the public because the PSA test did not offer sufficient reassurance or benefit and could raise unnecessary alarm. It recommended an alternative programme to support general practitioners to provide patients with better quality and more consistent information about PSA screening. After the jury, participants were less likely to be tested in the future compared with the controls, but around half said they would still consider doing so.
The jury's unanimous verdict about government programmes was notable in the light of their divergent views on whether or not they would be screened themselves in the future. Community juries provide valuable insights into the priorities and concerns of men weighing up the benefits and harms of PSA screening. It will be important to assess the degree to which the findings are generalisable to other settings.
PMCID: PMC4010814  PMID: 24785399
Public Health; Qualitative Research
4.  Policy and practice impacts of applied research: a case study analysis of the New South Wales Health Promotion Demonstration Research Grants Scheme 2000–2006 
Intervention research provides important information regarding feasible and effective interventions for health policy makers, but few empirical studies have explored the mechanisms by which these studies influence policy and practice. This study provides an exploratory case series analysis of the policy, practice and other related impacts of the 15 research projects funded through the New South Wales Health Promotion Demonstration Research Grants Scheme during the period 2000 to 2006, and explored the factors mediating impacts.
Data collection included semi-structured interviews with the chief investigators (n = 17) and end-users (n = 29) of each of the 15 projects to explore if, how and under what circumstances the findings had been used, as well as bibliometric analysis and verification using documentary evidence. Data analysis involved thematic coding of interview data and triangulation with other data sources to produce case summaries of impacts for each project. Case summaries were then individually assessed against four impact criteria and discussed at a verification panel meeting where final group assessments of the impact of research projects were made and key influences of research impact identified.
Funded projects had variable impacts on policy and practice. Project findings were used for agenda setting (raising awareness of issues), identifying areas and target groups for interventions, informing new policies, and supporting and justifying existing policies and programs across sectors. Reported factors influencing the use of findings were: i) nature of the intervention; ii) leadership and champions; iii) research quality; iv) effective partnerships; v) dissemination strategies used; and, vi) contextual factors.
The case series analysis provides new insights into how and under what circumstances intervention research is used to influence real world policy and practice. The findings highlight that intervention research projects can achieve the greatest policy and practice impacts if they address proximal needs of the policy context by engaging end-users from the inception of projects and utilizing existing policy networks and structures, and using a range of strategies to disseminate findings that go beond traditional peer review publications.
PMCID: PMC3621590  PMID: 23374280
Government; Health promotion; Intervention research; Policy
5.  Utilization of a population health survey in policy and practice: a case study 
There is growing interest by funding bodies and researchers in assessing the impact of research on real world policy and practice. Population health monitoring surveys provide an important source of data on the prevalence and patterns of health problems, but few empirical studies have explored if and how such data is used to influence policy or practice decisions. Here we provide a case study analysis of how the findings from an Australian population monitoring survey series of children’s weight and weight-related behaviors (Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS)) have been used, and the key facilitators and barriers to their utilization.
Data collection included semi-structured interviews with the chief investigators (n = 3) and end-users (n = 9) of SPANS data to explore if, how and under what circumstances the survey findings had been used, bibliometric analysis and verification using documentary evidence. Data analysis involved thematic coding of interview data and triangulation with other data sources to produce case summaries of policy and practice impacts for each of the three survey years (1997, 2004, 2010). Case summaries were then reviewed and discussed by the authors to distil key themes on if, how and why the SPANS findings had been used to guide policy and practice.
We found that the survey findings were used for agenda setting (raising awareness of issues), identifying areas and target groups for interventions, informing new policies, and supporting and justifying existing policies and programs across a range of sectors. Reported factors influencing use of the findings were: i) the perceived credibility of survey findings; ii) dissemination strategies used; and, iii) a range of contextual factors.
Using a novel approach, our case study provides important new insights into how and under what circumstances population health monitoring data can be used to influence real world policy and practice. The findings highlight the importance of population monitoring programs being conducted by independent credible agencies, researchers engaging end-users from the inception of survey programs and utilizing existing policy networks and structures, and using a range of strategies to disseminate the findings that go beyond traditional peer review publications.
PMCID: PMC3564893  PMID: 23363562
Government; Policy; Population health; Research
6.  Shared care in the follow-up of early-stage melanoma: a qualitative study of Australian melanoma clinicians’ perspectives and models of care 
Patients with early stage melanoma have high survival rates but require long-term follow-up to detect recurrences and/or new primary tumours. Shared care between melanoma specialists and general practitioners is an increasingly important approach to meeting the needs of a growing population of melanoma survivors.
In-depth qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews with 16 clinicians (surgical oncologists, dermatologists and melanoma unit GPs) who conduct post-treatment follow-up at two of Australia’s largest specialist referral melanoma treatment and diagnosis units. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed to identify approaches to shared care in follow-up, variations in practice, and explanations of these.
Melanoma unit clinicians utilised shared care in the follow-up of patients with early stage melanoma. Schedules were determined by patients’ clinical risk profiles. Final arrangements for delivery of those schedules (by whom and where) were influenced by additional psychosocial, professional and organizational considerations. Four models of shared care were described: (a) surgical oncologist alternating with dermatologist (in-house or local to patient); (b) melanoma unit dermatologist and other local doctor (e.g. family physician); (c) surgical oncologist and local doctor; or (d) melanoma physician and local doctor.
These models of shared care offer alternative solutions to managing the requirements for long-term follow-up of a growing number of patients with stage I/II melanoma, and warrant further comparative evaluation of outcomes in clinical trials, with detailed cost/benefit analyses.
PMCID: PMC3537530  PMID: 23253951
Melanoma; Follow-up; Shared care; Models of care
7.  Reduction of diabetes risk in routine clinical practice: are physical activity and nutrition interventions feasible and are the outcomes from reference trials replicable? A systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:653.
The clinical effectiveness of intensive lifestyle interventions in preventing or delaying diabetes in people at high risk has been established from randomised trials of structured, intensive interventions conducted in several countries over the past two decades. The challenge is to translate them into routine clinical settings. The objective of this review is to determine whether lifestyle interventions delivered to high-risk adult patients in routine clinical care settings are feasible and effective in achieving reductions in risk factors for diabetes.
Data sources: MEDLINE (PubMed), EMBASE, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, and grey literature were searched for English-language articles published from January 1990 to August 2009. The reference lists of all articles collected were checked to ensure that no relevant suitable studies were missed. Study selection: We included RCTs, before/after evaluations, cohort studies with or without a control group and interrupted time series analyses of lifestyle interventions with the stated aim of diabetes risk reduction or diabetes prevention, conducted in routine clinical settings and delivered by healthcare providers such as family physicians, practice nurses, allied health personnel, or other healthcare staff associated with a health service. Outcomes of interest were weight loss, reduction in waist circumference, improvement of impaired fasting glucose or oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) results, improvements in fat and fibre intakes, increased level of engagement in physical activity and reduction in diabetes incidence.
Twelve from 41 potentially relevant studies were included in the review. Four studies were suitable for meta-analysis. A significant positive effect of the interventions on weight was reported by all study types. The meta-analysis showed that lifestyle interventions achieved weight and waist circumference reductions after one year. However, no clear effects on biochemical or clinical parameters were observed, possibly due to short follow-up periods or lack of power of the studies meta-analysed. Changes in dietary parameters or physical activity were generally not reported. Most studies assessing feasibility were supportive of implementation of lifestyle interventions in routine clinical care.
Lifestyle interventions for patients at high risk of diabetes, delivered by a variety of healthcare providers in routine clinical settings, are feasible but appear to be of limited clinical benefit one year after intervention. Despite convincing evidence from structured intensive trials, this systematic review showed that translation into routine practice has less effect on diabetes risk reduction.
PMCID: PMC2989959  PMID: 21029469
8.  Increasing the use of evidence in health policy: practice and views of policy makers and researchers 
Better communication is often suggested as fundamental to increasing the use of research evidence in policy, but little is known about how researchers and policy makers work together or about barriers to exchange. This study explored the views and practice of policy makers and researchers regarding the use of evidence in policy, including: (i) current use of research to inform policy; (ii) dissemination of and access to research findings for policy; (iii) communication and exchange between researchers and policy makers; and (iv) incentives for increasing the use of research in policy.
Separate but similar interview schedules were developed for policy makers and researchers. Senior policy makers from NSW Health and senior researchers from public health and health service research groups in NSW were invited to participate. Consenting participants were interviewed by an independent research company.
Thirty eight policy makers (79% response rate) and 41 researchers (82% response rate) completed interviews. Policy makers reported rarely using research to inform policy agendas or to evaluate the impact of policy; research was used more commonly to inform policy content. Most researchers reported that their research had informed local policy, mainly by increasing awareness of an issue. Policy makers reported difficulty in accessing useful research syntheses, and only a third of researchers reported developing targeted strategies to inform policy makers of their findings. Both policy makers and researchers wanted more exchange and saw this as important for increasing the use of research evidence in policy; however, both groups reported a high level of involvement by policy makers in research.
Policy makers and researchers recognise the potential of research to contribute to policy and are making significant attempts to integrate research into the policy process. These findings suggest four strategies to assist in increasing the use of research in policy: making research findings more accessible to policy makers; increasing opportunities for interaction between policy makers and researchers; addressing structural barriers such as research receptivity in policy agencies and a lack of incentives for academics to link with policy; and increasing the relevance of research to policy.
PMCID: PMC2739528  PMID: 19698186

Results 1-8 (8)