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      How do drug policy makers access research evidence?

      The International Journal on Drug Policy

      Access to Information, Administrative Personnel, Australia, Biomedical Research, Comprehension, Decision Making, Organizational, Drug and Narcotic Control, legislation & jurisprudence, Evidence-Based Medicine, Government Regulation, Health Policy, Humans, Policy Making

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          Policy decisions are informed by a number of factors: politics, ideology and values, perceived public opinion, and pragmatic constraints such as funding. Research evidence is also used to inform decision-making but must compete with these other inputs. Understanding how policy makers access research evidence may assist in encouraging greater use of this evidence. This study examined the sources of research evidence that Australian government drug policy makers accessed when faced with their most recent decision-making opportunity. Drug policy makers across health and police government portfolios were interviewed (n=31) and asked to report on the sources of research evidence used in their most recent decision-making. Nine sources were reported, the most frequent of which were seeking advice from an expert and consulting technical reports. Accessing the internet, using statistical data and consulting policy makers in other jurisdictions were used in about half the cases. The least frequently used sources were academic literature, relying on internal expertise, policy documents and employing a consultant. There is a tension between the type of information source most suited to policy makers--simple, single-message, summative and accessible--and the types of information produced and valued by researchers--largely academic publications that are nuanced and complex. Researchers need to consider the sources that policy makers use if they wish their research to be utilised as one part of policy making.

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