Best Practice in Using Evidence for Health Policy: Do We Know What It Is?

By Bell, Erica; Waddingham, Suzie et al. | International Public Health Journal, April 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Best Practice in Using Evidence for Health Policy: Do We Know What It Is?


Bell, Erica, Waddingham, Suzie, Hosken, Elaine, Rudling, Natalie, Murray, Sandra, Martin, Suzanne, Wagner, Melissa, International Public Health Journal


Information

"Evidence-based policy" has become a mantra of the 21st Century. It was considered sufficiently endearing to western publics that it became the promise of both UK and Australian Labor parties before their election, and featured in both Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's Whitehouse campaigns. But do we know what -evidence-based policy" is? And is evidence-based policy well-informed policy?

To date, there is little research on the role of evidence in policy-makers' decisions i.e. how, when, and why policy-makers use evidence (or why they do not use it). Beyond the gold standard of classical experimental research paradigms, there is little agreement on exactly what constitutes evidence, perhaps because definitions of scholarly research vary from discipline to discipline. The policy literature suggests that the range of information (not just research evidence), used by policy-makers to make decisions is broad and varies depending on the context and nature of the decisions that have to be made (1-4). For example, scholarly reviews have been found to be more useful to program planning and justification but less important in program evaluation decision-making (5,6). Local-level UK health policymaking agencies have been found to rely on government reports and guidelines rather than published scholarly research (5). In contrast, the World Health Organisation appears to often rely on expert specialist opinion (7).

The literature suggests many direct and indirect uses for research: far from simply offering an empirical base for decision-making, it can help reconceptualise policy challenges and challenge the very basis for understanding the problem, or provide a means for reaching consensus among stakeholders (8). However, leading policy researchers acknowledge that in reality policy-making may be only aware of evidence at best (9). This is supported by a number of studies that suggest that research evidence is often used indirectly by policy-makers (10).

Barriers to the use of research evidence: "Researchers are from Venus and policy-makers are from mars'

The reasons research evidence is often not used by policy-makers are complex. Even ostensibly practical research evidence such as economic evaluations may not be used by health policy-makers for a host of reasons: they range from the perceived irrelevance of the research to budgetary constraints (11). In fact, there is some evidence that even research commissioned by government departments (not just -academic research") is often not used by policymakers (12).

Collectively, the literature on research transfer into policy suggests that there are two kinds of barriers to the take-up or use of research evidence:

1. Barriers that relate to the multi-faceted nature of policy decision-making and the ways in which it requires consideration of strategic, political, economic and other contextual factors outside the ambit of research evidence

2. Barriers that are about the limitations of research evidence itself: its relevance, timeliness, adequacy and so on (13)

Both kinds of barriers reinforce the idea, common in the policy literature that researchers are from Venus and policy-makers are from Mars. One of the key assumptions of the late 20th-early 21st Century -translational science" movement is that it is possible to build bridges between the two worlds (14). Translational science is based on the assumption that overcoming barriers to research transfer is about focusing on better articulation of ideas, knowledge and methods within the sciences, as well as between the sciences and policy-makers and practitioners. It often aims to achieve this through the translation of evidence into practical tools and resources for policymakers and practitioners (15-17). Yet many unacknowledged barriers that relate to what elite research funding agencies value, how modern universities are constituted as 'big businesses', what kinds of academic publications are valued, how academics are rewarded (or not) for engaging with local health professionals and their concerns, remain in universities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Best Practice in Using Evidence for Health Policy: Do We Know What It Is?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.