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      Do policy-makers find commissioned rapid reviews useful?


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          Rapid reviews are increasingly used by policy agencies to access relevant research in short timeframes. Despite the growing number of programmes, little is known about how rapid reviews are used by health policy agencies. This study examined whether and how rapid reviews commissioned using a knowledge brokering programme were used by Australian policy-makers.


          This study used interview data to examine the use of 139 rapid reviews by health policy agencies that were commissioned between 2006 and 2015. Transcripts were coded to identify how rapid reviews were used, the type of policy processes in which they were used, what evidence of use was provided and what reasons were given when rapid reviews were not used. Fisher’s exact test was used to assess variation between types of agencies.


          Overall, 89% of commissioned rapid reviews were used by the commissioning agencies and 338 separate instances of use were identified, namely, on average, three uses per review. Policy-makers used reviews primarily to determine the details of a policy or programme, identify priorities for future action or investment, negotiate interjurisdictional decisions, evaluate alternative solutions for a policy problem, and communicate information to stakeholders. Some variation in use was observed across agencies. Reasons for non-use were related to changes in organisational structures, resources or key personnel in the commissioning agencies, or changes in the broader political environment.


          This study found that almost all rapid reviews had been used by the agencies who commissioned them, primarily in policy and programme development, agenda-setting, and to communicate information to stakeholders. Reviews were used mostly in instrumental and conceptual ways and there was little evidence of symbolic use. Variations in use were identified across agencies. The findings suggest that commissioned rapid reviews are an effective means of providing timely relevant research for use in policy processes and that review findings may be applied in a variety of ways.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12961-018-0293-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references18

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          The Many Meanings of Research Utilization

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            Factors that influence the implementation of e-health: a systematic review of systematic reviews (an update)

            Background There is a significant potential for e-health to deliver cost-effective, quality health care, and spending on e-health systems by governments and healthcare systems is increasing worldwide. However, there remains a tension between the use of e-health in this way and implementation. Furthermore, the large body of reviews in the e-health implementation field, often based on one particular technology, setting or health condition make it difficult to access a comprehensive and comprehensible summary of available evidence to help plan and undertake implementation. This review provides an update and re-analysis of a systematic review of the e-health implementation literature culminating in a set of accessible and usable recommendations for anyone involved or interested in the implementation of e-health. Methods MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and The Cochrane Library were searched for studies published between 2009 and 2014. Studies were included if they were systematic reviews of the implementation of e-health. Data from included studies were synthesised using the principles of meta-ethnography, and categorisation of the data was informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Results Forty-four reviews mainly from North America and Europe were included. A range of e-health technologies including electronic medical records and clinical decision support systems were represented. Healthcare settings included primary care, secondary care and home care. Factors important for implementation were identified at the levels of the following: the individual e-health technology, the outer setting, the inner setting and the individual health professionals as well as the process of implementation. Conclusion This systematic review of reviews provides a synthesis of the literature that both acknowledges the multi-level complexity of e-health implementation and provides an accessible and useful guide for those planning implementation. New interpretations of a large amount of data across e-health systems and healthcare settings have been generated and synthesised into a set of useable recommendations for practice. This review provides a further empirical test of the CFIR and identifies areas where additional research is necessary. Trial registration PROSPERO, CRD42015017661 Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-016-0510-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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              Three Lenses of Evidence-Based Policy

              Brian Head (2008)

                Author and article information

                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Res Policy Syst
                Health Research Policy and Systems
                BioMed Central (London )
                26 February 2018
                26 February 2018
                : 16
                : 17
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0601 4585, GRID grid.474225.2, The Sax Institute, ; Level 13, Building 10, 235 Jones Street Ultimo NSW 2007, PO Box K617, Haymarket, NSW 1240 Australia
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 834X, GRID grid.1013.3, School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, ; Edward Ford Building (A27), Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
                © 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.

                : 30 September 2017
                : 30 January 2018
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2018

                Health & Social care
                knowledge translation,rapid review,rapid synthesis,policy-makers,research utilisation,health policy


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