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The nature of public health evidence presents challenges for conventional systematic
review processes, with increasing recognition of the need to include a broader range
of work including observational studies and qualitative research, yet with methods
to combine diverse sources remaining underdeveloped. The objective of this paper is
to report the application of a new approach for review of evidence in the public health
sphere. The method enables a diverse range of evidence types to be synthesized in
order to examine potential relationships between a public health environment and outcomes.
The study drew on previous work by the National Institute for Health and Clinical
Excellence on conceptual frameworks. It applied and further extended this work to
the synthesis of evidence relating to one particular public health area: the enhancement
of employee mental well-being in the workplace.
The approach utilized thematic analysis techniques from primary research, together
with conceptual modelling, to explore potential relationships between factors and
The method enabled a logic framework to be built from a diverse document set that
illustrates how elements and associations between elements may impact on the well-being
Whilst recognizing potential criticisms of the approach, it is suggested that logic
models can be a useful way of examining the complexity of relationships between factors
and outcomes in public health, and of highlighting potential areas for interventions
and further research. The use of techniques from primary qualitative research may
also be helpful in synthesizing diverse document types.
Copyright 2010 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All