Article Text

PDF

5.5 Social policy
O5-5.2 Evidence-based public health policy: myth or reality? A mixed method study of public health decision-making in the UK
  1. L Orton,
  2. F Lloyd-Williams,
  3. D Taylor-Robinson,
  4. M Moonan,
  5. M O'Flaherty,
  6. S Capewell
  1. University of Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK

Abstract

Introduction The potential power of public health policies emphasises the need for sound decision-making. Using research evidence to underpin public health policy has been strongly promoted; however, its implementation has not been straightforward. This study explores the use of research evidence in public health decision-making.

Methods We systematically reviewed empirical studies on the use of research evidence in public health policy (18 studies included). The identified gaps were explored through an in-depth qualitative study involving 40 interviews and three focus group discussions with senior public health decision-makers.

Results Decision-making for public health is complex. This reflects the wide determinants of health, the extensive associations between long-term conditions, and the necessity to work across sectors. A vast range of types of research evidence are used in decision-making. However, this evidence competes with many other influences. Barriers to the use of research evidence are well-described and include: decision-makers' negative perceptions of research evidence; the gulf between researchers and decision-makers; the political process of decision-making; practical time and resource constraints and limited capacity.

Ways of overcoming these barriers are less well known, and include: changing the culture of decision-making; targeting research at the needs of decision-makers; clearly highlighting key research messages; and capacity building.

Conclusion A broader conception of evidence is required to underpin public health decision-making. Achieving evidence-informed public health policy requires action by both decision-makers and researchers, in order to address the barriers identified in this study.

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.