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      Incorporating research evidence into decision-making processes: researcher and decision-maker perceptions from five low- and middle-income countries

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          Abstract

          Background

          The ‘Sponsoring National Processes for Evidence-Informed Policy Making in the Health Sector of Developing Countries’ program was launched by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, WHO, in July 2008. The program aimed to catalyse the use of evidence generated through health policy and systems research in policymaking processes through (1) promoting researchers and policy advocates to present their evidence in a manner that is easy for policymakers to understand and use, (2) creating mechanisms to spur the demand for and application of research evidence in policymaking, and (3) increased interaction between researchers, policy advocates, and policymakers. Grants ran for three years and five projects were supported in Argentina, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Nigeria and Zambia. This paper seeks to understand why projects in some settings were perceived by the key stakeholders involved to have made progress towards their goals, whereas others were perceived to have not done so well. Additionally, by comparing experiences across five countries, we seek to illustrate general learnings to inform future evidence-to-policy efforts in low- and middle-income countries.

          Methods

          We adopted the theory of knowledge translation developed by Jacobson et al. ( J Health Serv Res Policy 8(2):94–9, 2003) as a framing device to reflect on project experiences across the five cases. Using data from the projects’ external evaluation reports, which included information from semi-structured interviews and quantitative evaluation surveys of those involved in projects, and supplemented by information from the projects’ individual technical reports, we applied the theoretical framework with a partially grounded approach to analyse each of the cases and make comparisons.

          Results and conclusion

          There was wide variation across projects in the type of activities carried out as well as their intensity. Based on our findings, we can conclude that projects perceived as having made progress towards their goals were characterized by the coming together of a number of domains identified by the theory. The domains of Jacobson’s theoretical framework, initially developed for high-income settings, are of relevance to the low- and middle-income country context, but may need modification to be fully applicable to these settings. Specifically, the relative fragility of institutions and the concomitantly more significant role of individual leaders point to the need to look at leadership as an additional domain influencing the evidence-to-policy process.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Evaluating the successful implementation of evidence into practice using the PARiHS framework: theoretical and practical challenges

          Background The PARiHS framework (Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services) has proved to be a useful practical and conceptual heuristic for many researchers and practitioners in framing their research or knowledge translation endeavours. However, as a conceptual framework it still remains untested and therefore its contribution to the overall development and testing of theory in the field of implementation science is largely unquantified. Discussion This being the case, the paper provides an integrated summary of our conceptual and theoretical thinking so far and introduces a typology (derived from social policy analysis) used to distinguish between the terms conceptual framework, theory and model – important definitional and conceptual issues in trying to refine theoretical and methodological approaches to knowledge translation. Secondly, the paper describes the next phase of our work, in particular concentrating on the conceptual thinking and mapping that has led to the generation of the hypothesis that the PARiHS framework is best utilised as a two-stage process: as a preliminary (diagnostic and evaluative) measure of the elements and sub-elements of evidence (E) and context (C), and then using the aggregated data from these measures to determine the most appropriate facilitation method. The exact nature of the intervention is thus determined by the specific actors in the specific context at a specific time and place. In the process of refining this next phase of our work, we have had to consider the wider issues around the use of theories to inform and shape our research activity; the ongoing challenges of developing robust and sensitive measures; facilitation as an intervention for getting research into practice; and finally to note how the current debates around evidence into practice are adopting wider notions that fit innovations more generally. Summary The paper concludes by suggesting that the future direction of the work on the PARiHS framework is to develop a two-stage diagnostic and evaluative approach, where the intervention is shaped and moulded by the information gathered about the specific situation and from participating stakeholders. In order to expedite the generation of new evidence and testing of emerging theories, we suggest the formation of an international research implementation science collaborative that can systematically collect and analyse experiences of using and testing the PARiHS framework and similar conceptual and theoretical approaches. We also recommend further refinement of the definitions around conceptual framework, theory, and model, suggesting a wider discussion that embraces multiple epistemological and ontological perspectives.
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            The Two-Communities Theory and Knowledge Utilization

             N. Caplan (1979)
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              SUPPORT Tools for evidence-informed health Policymaking (STP) 1: What is evidence-informed policymaking?

              This article is part of a series written for people responsible for making decisions about health policies and programmes and for those who support these decision makers. In this article, we discuss the following three questions: What is evidence? What is the role of research evidence in informing health policy decisions? What is evidence-informed policymaking? Evidence-informed health policymaking is an approach to policy decisions that aims to ensure that decision making is well-informed by the best available research evidence. It is characterised by the systematic and transparent access to, and appraisal of, evidence as an input into the policymaking process. The overall process of policymaking is not assumed to be systematic and transparent. However, within the overall process of policymaking, systematic processes are used to ensure that relevant research is identified, appraised and used appropriately. These processes are transparent in order to ensure that others can examine what research evidence was used to inform policy decisions, as well as the judgements made about the evidence and its implications. Evidence-informed policymaking helps policymakers gain an understanding of these processes.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                shroffz@who.int
                bhupinder.saheb@gmail.com
                lucy.gilson@uct.ac.za
                iagyepong@hotmail.com
                fe08@aub.edu.lb
                ghaffara@who.int
                Journal
                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Research Policy and Systems
                BioMed Central (London )
                1478-4505
                30 November 2015
                30 November 2015
                2015
                : 13
                Affiliations
                [ ]Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
                [ ]Health Economics Unit, Health Policy and Systems Division, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
                [ ]Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
                [ ]University of Ghana School of Public Health/Ghana Health Service, Accra, Ghana
                [ ]Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
                Article
                59
                10.1186/s12961-015-0059-y
                4666035
                26621364
                © Shroff et al. 2015

                Open Access This 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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                Research
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                © The Author(s) 2015

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