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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.  How can knowledge exchange portals assist in knowledge management for evidence-informed decision making in public health? 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:443.
Knowledge exchange portals are emerging as web tools that can help facilitate knowledge management in public health. We conducted a review to better understand the nature of these portals and their contribution to knowledge management in public health, with the aim of informing future development of portals in this field.
A systematic literature search was conducted of the peer-reviewed and grey literature to identify articles that described the design, development or evaluation of Knowledge Exchange Portals KEPs in the public health field. The content of the articles was analysed, interpreted and synthesised in light of the objectives of the review.
The systematic search yielded 2223 articles, of which fifteen were deemed eligible for review, including eight case studies, six evaluation studies and one commentary article. Knowledge exchange portals mainly included design features to support knowledge access and creation, but formative evaluation studies examining user needs suggested collaborative features supporting knowledge exchange would also be useful. Overall web usage statistics revealed increasing use of some of these portals over time; however difficulties remain in retaining users. There is some evidence to suggest that the use of a knowledge exchange portal in combination with tailored and targeted messaging can increase the use of evidence in policy and program decision making at the organisational level.
Knowledge exchange portals can be a platform for providing integrated access to relevant content and resources in one location, for sharing and distributing information and for bringing people together for knowledge exchange. However more performance evaluation studies are needed to determine how they can best support evidence-informed decision making in public health.
PMCID: PMC4046147  PMID: 24884530
Knowledge exchange; Evaluation; Collaboration; Online; Public health; Health policy; Information management
3.  Increasing the scale and adoption of population health interventions: experiences and perspectives of policy makers, practitioners, and researchers 
Decisions to scale up population health interventions from small projects to wider state or national implementation is fundamental to maximising population-wide health improvements. The objectives of this study were to examine: i) how decisions to scale up interventions are currently made in practice; ii) the role that evidence plays in informing decisions to scale up interventions; and iii) the role policy makers, practitioners, and researchers play in this process.
Interviews with an expert panel of senior Australian and international public health policy-makers (n = 7), practitioners (n = 7), and researchers (n = 7) were conducted in May 2013 with a participation rate of 84%.
Scaling up decisions were generally made through iterative processes and led by policy makers and/or practitioners, but ultimately approved by political leaders and/or senior executives of funding agencies. Research evidence formed a component of the overall set of information used in decision-making, but its contribution was limited by the paucity of relevant intervention effectiveness research, and data on costs and cost effectiveness. Policy makers, practitioners/service managers, and researchers had different, but complementary roles to play in the process of scaling up interventions.
This analysis articulates the processes of how decisions to scale up interventions are made, the roles of evidence, and contribution of different professional groups. More intervention research that includes data on the effectiveness, reach, and costs of operating at scale and key service delivery issues (including acceptability and fit of interventions and delivery models) should be sought as this has the potential to substantially advance the relevance and ultimately usability of research evidence for scaling up population health action.
PMCID: PMC3996855  PMID: 24735455
Intervention development; Intervention studies; Scaling up
4.  Harnessing the power of advertising to prevent childhood obesity 
Social marketing integrates communication campaigns with behavioural and environmental change strategies. Childhood obesity programs could benefit significantly from social marketing but communication campaigns on this issue tend to be stand-alone.
A large-scale multi-setting child obesity prevention program was implemented in the Hunter New England (HNE) region of New South Wales (NSW), Australia from 2005–2010. The program included a series of communication campaigns promoting the program and its key messages: drinking water; getting physically active and; eating more vegetables and fruit. Pre-post telephone surveys (n = 9) were undertaken to evaluate awareness of the campaigns among parents of children aged 2–15 years using repeat cross-sections of randomly selected cohorts. A total of 1,367 parents (HNE = 748, NSW = 619) participated.
At each survey post baseline, HNE parents were significantly more likely to have seen, read or heard about the program and its messages in the media than parents in the remainder of the state (p < 0.001). Further, there was a significant increase in awareness of the program and each of its messages over time in HNE compared to no change over time in NSW (p < 0.001). Awareness was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in HNE compared to NSW after each specific campaign (except the vegetable one) and significantly higher awareness levels were sustained for each campaign until the end of the program. At the end of the program participants without a tertiary education were significantly more likely (p = 0.04) to be aware of the brand campaign (31%) than those with (20%) but there were no other statistically significant socio-demographic differences in awareness.
The Good for Kids communication campaigns increased and maintained awareness of childhood obesity prevention messages. Moreover, messages were delivered equitably to diverse socio-demographic groups within the region.
PMCID: PMC3852185  PMID: 24090174
5.  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
6.  Impact of a population based intervention to increase the adoption of multiple physical activity practices in centre based childcare services: a quasi experimental, effectiveness study 
There is considerable scope to improve the delivery of practices that increase the physical activity of children in centre based childcare services. Few studies have reported the effectiveness of interventions to address this, particularly at a population level. The primary aim of this study was to describe the impact of an intervention to increase the adoption of multiple policies and practices to promote physical activity in centre based childcare services.
A quasi experimental study was conducted in centre based childcare services (n =228) in New South Wales (NSW), Australia and involved a three month intervention to increase the adoption of eight practices within childcare services that have been suggested to promote child physical activity. Intervention strategies to support the adoption of practices included staff training, resources, incentives, follow-up support and performance monitoring and feedback. Randomly selected childcare services in the remainder of NSW acted as a comparison group (n = 164) and did not receive the intervention but may have been exposed to a concurrent NSW government healthy eating and physical activity initiative. Self reported information on physical activity policies, fundamental movement skills sessions, structured physical activity opportunities, staff involvement in active play and provision of verbal prompts to encourage physical activity, small screen recreation opportunities, sedentary time, and staff trained in physical activity were collected by telephone survey with childcare service managers at baseline and 18 months later.
Compared with the comparison area, the study found significantly greater increases in the prevalence of intervention services with a written physical activity policy, with policy referring to placing limits on small screen recreation, and with staff trained in physical activity. In addition, non-significant trends towards a greater increase in the proportion of intervention services conducting daily fundamental movement skill sessions, and such services having a physical activity policy supporting physical activity training for staff were also evident.
The intervention was effective in improving a number of centre based childcare service policies and practices associated with promoting child physical activity. Adoption of a broader range of practices may require more intensive and prolonged intervention support.
PMCID: PMC3494551  PMID: 22929434
Daycare centers; Preschool; Childcare; Children; Physical activity; Policy; Practice
7.  Effectiveness of a multi-strategy intervention in increasing the implementation of vegetable and fruit breaks by Australian primary schools: a non-randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:651.
Limited evidence exists describing the effectiveness of strategies in facilitating the implementation of vegetable and fruit programs by schools on a population wide basis. The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a multi-strategy intervention in increasing the population-wide implementation of vegetable and fruit breaks by primary schools and to determine if intervention effectiveness varied by school characteristics.
A quasi-experimental study was conducted in primary schools in the state of New South Wales, Australia. All primary schools in one region of the state (n = 422) received a multi-strategy intervention. A random sample of schools (n = 406) in the remainder of the state served as comparison schools. The multi-strategy intervention to increase vegetable and fruit breaks involved the development and provision of: program consensus and leadership; staff training; program materials; incentives; follow-up support; and implementation feedback. Comparison schools had access to routine information-based Government support. Data to assess the prevalence of vegetable and fruit breaks were collected by telephone from Principals of the intervention and comparison schools at baseline (2006–2007) and 11 to 15 months following the commencement of the intervention (2009–2010). GEE analysis was used to examine the change in the prevalence of vegetable and fruit breaks in intervention schools compared to comparison schools.
At follow-up, prevalence of vegetable and fruit breaks increased significantly in both intervention (50.3 % to 82.0 %, p < 0.001) and comparison (45.4 % to 60.9 % p < 0.001) schools. The increase in prevalence in intervention schools was significantly larger than among comparison schools (OR 2.36; 95 % CI 1.60-3.49, p <0.001). The effect size was similar between schools regardless of the rurality or socioeconomic status of school location, school size or government or non-government school type.
The findings suggest that a multi-strategy intervention can significantly increase the implementation of vegetable and fruit breaks by a large number of Australian primary schools.
PMCID: PMC3490882  PMID: 22889085
Implementation; Primary schools; Fruit; Vegetables; Intervention; Dissemination; Diffusion
8.  Public health research outputs from efficacy to dissemination: a bibliometric analysis 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:934.
More intervention research is needed, particularly 'real world' intervention replication and dissemination studies, to optimize improvements in health. This study assessed the proportion and type of published public health intervention research papers over time in physical activity and falls prevention, both important contributors to preventable morbidity and mortality.
A keyword search was conducted, using Medline and PsycINFO to locate publications in 1988-1989, 1998-1999, and 2008-2009 for the two topic areas. In stage 1, a random sample of 1200 publications per time period for both topics were categorized as: non-public health, non-data-based public health, or data-based public health. In stage 2 data-based public health articles were further classified as measurement, descriptive, etiological or intervention research. Finally, intervention papers were categorized as: efficacy, intervention replication or dissemination studies. Inter-rater reliability of paper classification was 88%.
Descriptive studies were the most common data-based papers across all time periods (1988-89; 1998-1999;2008-2009) for both issues (physical activity: 47%; 54%; 65% and falls 75%; 64%; 63%), increasing significantly over time for physical activity. The proportion of intervention publications did not increase over time for physical activity comprising 23% across all time periods and fluctuated for falls across the time periods (10%; 21%; 17%). The proportion of intervention articles that were replication studies increased over the three time periods for physical activity (0%; 2%; 11%) and for falls (0%; 22%; 35%). Dissemination studies first appeared in the literature in 2008-2009, making up only 3% of physical activity and 7% of falls intervention studies.
Intervention research studies remain only a modest proportion of all published studies in physical activity and falls prevention; the majority of the intervention studies, are efficacy studies although there is growing evidence of a move towards replication and dissemination studies, which may have greater potential for improving population health.
PMCID: PMC3297537  PMID: 22168312
9.  Computer-tailored dietary behaviour change interventions: a systematic review 
Health Education Research  2009;24(4):699-720.
Improving dietary behaviours such as increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and reducing saturated fat intake are important in the promotion of better health. Computer tailoring has shown promise as a strategy to promote such behaviours. A narrative systematic review was conducted to describe the available evidence on ‘second’-generation computer-tailored primary prevention interventions for dietary behaviour change and to determine their effectiveness and key characteristics of success. Systematic literature searches were conducted through five databases: Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and All EBM Reviews and by examining the reference lists of relevant articles to identify studies published in English from January 1996 to 2008. Randomized controlled trials or quasi-experimental designs with pre-test and post-test behavioural outcome data were included. A total of 13 articles were reviewed, describing the evaluation of 12 interventions, seven of which found significant positive effects of the computer-tailored interventions for dietary behaviour outcomes, one also for weight reduction outcomes. Although the evidence of short-term efficacy for computer-tailored dietary behaviour change interventions is fairly strong, the uncertainty lies in whether the reported effects are generalizable and sustained long term. Further research is required to address these limitations of the evidence.
PMCID: PMC2706490  PMID: 19286893

Results 1-9 (9)