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      Getting evidence to travel inside public systems: what organisational brokering capacities exist for evidence-based policy?

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          Abstract

          Background

          Implementing research findings into healthcare policy is an enduring challenge made even more difficult when policies must be developed and implemented with the help and support of multiple ideas, agendas and actors taking part in determinants of health. Only looking at mechanisms to feed policy-makers with evidence or to interest researchers in the policy process will simply bring partial clues; implementing evidence-based policy also requires organisations to lead and to partner in the production and intake of scientific evidence from academics and practical evidence from one another.

          Main body

          This Commentary argues for the need to better understand the capacities required by organisations to foster evidence-based policy in a dispersed environment. It proposes a framework of 11 brokering capacities for organisations involved in evidence-based policy. Eight of these capacities are informed by streams of research related to the roles of knowledge broker, innovation broker and policy broker. Three complementary brokering capacities are informed by our experience studying real-life evidence-based policies; these are capturing boundary knowledge, trending know-how on scientific and practical evidence-based policy, and conveying evidence outward.

          Conclusions

          Previous guidelines on brokering capacities focused on the individual level more than on the organisational level. Beyond the individual capacities of managers, designers and implementers of new policies, there is a need to identify and assess the brokering capacities of organisations involved in evidence-based policy. The three specific organisational brokering capacities for evidence-based policy that we present offer a means for policy-makers and policy designers to reflect upon favourable environments for evidence-based policy. These capacities could also help administrators and implementation scholars to think about and develop measurements to assess the quality and readiness of organisations involved in evidence-based policy design.

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          Most cited references 5

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          Policy Entrepreneurs and the Diffusion of Innovation

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            Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation

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              New directions in evidence-based policy research: a critical analysis of the literature

              Despite 40 years of research into evidence-based policy (EBP) and a continued drive from both policymakers and researchers to increase research uptake in policy, barriers to the use of evidence are persistently identified in the literature. However, it is not clear what explains this persistence – whether they represent real factors, or if they are artefacts of approaches used to study EBP. Based on an updated review, this paper analyses this literature to explain persistent barriers and facilitators. We critically describe the literature in terms of its theoretical underpinnings, definitions of ‘evidence’, methods, and underlying assumptions of research in the field, and aim to illuminate the EBP discourse by comparison with approaches from other fields. Much of the research in this area is theoretically naive, focusing primarily on the uptake of research evidence as opposed to evidence defined more broadly, and privileging academics’ research priorities over those of policymakers. Little empirical data analysing the processes or impact of evidence use in policy is available to inform researchers or decision-makers. EBP research often assumes that policymakers do not use evidence and that more evidence – meaning research evidence – use would benefit policymakers and populations. We argue that these assumptions are unsupported, biasing much of EBP research. The agenda of ‘getting evidence into policy’ has side-lined the empirical description and analysis of how research and policy actually interact in vivo. Rather than asking how research evidence can be made more influential, academics should aim to understand what influences and constitutes policy, and produce more critically and theoretically informed studies of decision-making. We question the main assumptions made by EBP researchers, explore the implications of doing so, and propose new directions for EBP research, and health policy.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                pernelle.smits@fsa.ulaval.ca
                jean-louis.denis@umontreal.ca
                johanne.preval@enap.ca
                evert@uvic.ca
                miguel.renato.aguirre@gmail.com
                Journal
                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Research Policy and Systems
                BioMed Central (London )
                1478-4505
                17 December 2018
                17 December 2018
                2018
                : 16
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8390, GRID grid.23856.3a, Université Laval, Pavillon Palasis-Prince, ; 2325 Rue de la Terrasse, Ville de Québec, QC G1V 0A6 Canada
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2292 3357, GRID grid.14848.31, School of Public Health, Université de Montréal, Centre de Recherche du CHUM, ; 900, rue Saint-Denis, Pavillon R, Montréal, QC H2X 0A9 Canada
                [3 ]ENAP École Nationale d’Administration Publique, 4750 Henri Julien, Montréal, QC H2T 3E5 Canada
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 9465, GRID grid.143640.4, University of Victoria, ; 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2 Canada
                Article
                393
                10.1186/s12961-018-0393-y
                6296131
                © The Author(s). 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                Commentary
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                © The Author(s) 2018

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