Health Policy and Planning: Taking knowledge users’ knowledge needs into account in health

ABSTRACT

The increased demand for evidence-based practice in health policy in recent years has provoked a parallel increase in diverse evidence-based outputs designed to translate knowledge from researchers to policy makers and practitioners. Such knowledge translation ideally creates user-friendly outputs, tailored to meet information needs in a particular context for a particular audience. Yet matching users’ knowledge needs to the most suitable output can be challenging. We have developed an evidence synthesis framework to help knowledge users, brokers, commissioners and producers decide which type of output offers the best ‘fit’ between ‘need’ and ‘response’. We conducted a four-strand literature search for characteristics and methods of evidence synthesis outputs using databases of peer reviewed literature, specific journals, grey literature and references in relevant documents. Eight experts in synthesis designed to get research into policy and practice were also consulted to hone issues for consideration and ascertain key studies. In all, 24 documents were included in the literature review. From these we identified essential characteristics to consider when planning an output – Readability, Relevance, Rigour and Resources—which we then used to develop a process for matching users’ knowledge needs with an appropriate evidence synthesis output. We also identified 10 distinct evidence synthesis outputs, classifying them in the evidence synthesis framework under four domains: key features, utility, technical characteristics and resources, and in relation to six primary audience groups—professionals, practitioners, researchers, academics, advocates and policy makers. Users’ knowledge needs vary and meeting them successfully requires collaborative planning. The Framework should facilitate a more systematic assessment of the balance of essential characteristics required to select the best output for the purpose.

KEY MESSAGES

The increased demand for evidence-based health policy in recent years has provoked a parallel increase in diverse evidence-based outputs designed to translate knowledge from researchers to policy makers and practitioners, yet matching users’ specific knowledge needs to the most suitable output, while essential, can be challenging.

We have developed an evidence synthesis framework classifying 10 distinct evidence synthesis outputs under four domains: key features, utility, technical characteristics and resources, in relation to six primary groups of users: professionals, practitioners, researchers, academics, advocates and policy makers.

We propose a process for matching users’ knowledge needs with an appropriate evidence synthesis output, using essential characteristics to consider when planning an output: Readability, Relevance, Rigour and Resources. [Resources available for production (including time, funding and personnel]

When used in combination, the framework and process should facilitate a more systematic assessment of the balance of essential characteristics required to select the best output for the purpose and help knowledge users, brokers, commissioners and producers decide the best ‘fit’ between ‘need’ and ‘response’.

The full text is freely available here: http://heapol.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/08/31/heapol.czv079.full?papetoc

CITATION: Taking knowledge users’ knowledge needs into account in health: an evidence synthesis framework

Deepthi Wickremasinghe, Shyama Kuruvilla, Nicholas Mays and Bilal Iqbal Avan,*

Health Policy Plan. (2015)

doi: 10.1093/heapol/czv079

Corresponding author. E-mail: bilal.avan@lshtm.ac.uk

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