Communicating health research

Interest in evidence-based policy and practice has promoted an exploration of the factors that affect the influence of research on policy. Studies of research-policy dynamics suggest there is a need for effective communication - both the appropriate dissemination of research results and attention to the networks and links between researchers, policymakers and practitioners throughout the research process. There is also much to learn from work at the 'research-practice boundary'.

This list of key resources was compiled from research carried out by Exchange. We would welcome suggestions or additions to the list: please send these to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org. There is also a 'Findings' paper based on this research, entitled Communicating health research: how does evidence affect policy and practice?.

Selected resources

Books, reports, etc

A strategic evaluation of the influence of research on public policy

GRAHAM, Michael
June 2004

Expand view

This four page paper outlines some of the challenges and lessons learned from a strategic evaluation of the policy influence of research supported by IDRC. It asked three fundamental questions: what does policy influence mean? In which cases has research supported by IDRC influenced policy? what factors contribute to, or inhibit, policy influence? It briefly outlines the methodology of the evaluation and presents a summary of the analysis and outputs, as well as factors worthy of further study

Bridging research and policy : an annotated bibliography

HOVLAND, Ingie,
DE VIBE, Maja,
YOUNG, John
2002

Expand view

An extensive annotated bibliography of 100 documents relevant to 'bridging research and policy'. Mainstream literature is supplemented with alternative viewpoints. The bibliography has been divided into three key themes ('bridging research and policy: the political context', 'the actors: networks, organisations, individuals', 'the message and the media'), including 'new' subject areas that may be useful (eg social psychology, media studies, marketing and communication). The entries are listed alphabetically by author, and then cross-indexed by theme, and by academic discipline

Bridging research and policy : insights from 50 case studies

COURT, Julius,
YOUNG, John
August 2003

Expand view

This paper looks at why some research policy ideas are picked up and acted on while others are ignored and disappear. It examines the processes, findings and implications of 50 summary case studies on research policy linkages. Discussion centres around four interlinked spheres: context, evidence, links and external influences. Some case studies show a clear and direct link between research and policy, while most show a less direct impact with a necessity for strong advocacy efforts. The case studies represent an interesting range of evidence and experience about research-policy links from around the world. They include examples from a wide range of types of research carried out by a variety of organisations and illustrate different types of policy impact. This ranges from direct impact on policy, changes in policy implementation, and changes on the ground but little in policy

Bridging the gap between research and policy

STONE, Diane
June 2001

Expand view

This short learning brief gives a clear overview of the process of how research impacts on policy and how policy draws upon research. It describes the legislative route, bureaucratic access, educational avenues, the climate of opinion, community participation and local knowledge and networks. It considers communication and dissemination strategies and notes some of the key lessons learned

Can communities influence national health research agendas? A learning process leading to a framework for community engagement in shaping health research policy

BATISTA, Ricardo
et al
2006

Expand view

This paper is a record of a consultation on 'Communities Matter' which reviewed case studies of successes and failures of community and civil society engagement, participation and action in health research. The group discussion focused on opportunities and obstacles for communities to engage in health research. It analysed strategies that can be applied to increase a community’s voice in health research, and looked at the concepts, definitions and frameworks that can be used for promoting, advocating and supporting community engagement in health research

Communicating health research : how should evidence affect policy and practice?

VINCENT, Robin
April 2006

Expand view

This accessible briefing paper outlines a number of key issues and challenges for strengthening research communication and promoting evidence-based policy. It reviews a range of recent NGO initiatives and debates in this area and signposts a number of useful resources and case studies. Considers the need to bridge the gaps between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners, the role of influential policy networks, the role of political context, components of effective research communicatIon, and some promising initiatives at the 'research-practice boundary'

Fixing health systems : linking research, development, systems, and partnerships

SAVIGNY, Don de
et al
2008

Expand view

Describes the process and lessons learned from the Tanzania Essential Health Intervention Project (TEHIP). This intervention used research to support the development of health care interventions aimed at the local burden of disease priorities. Local demographic surveillance helped to establish health intervention priorities in two districts, and then simple, computer-based 'burden of disease profiling tools' were used to help decide the allocation of budgets. The result was a large decrease in mortality rates, particularly among children and an increase in patient satisfaction and attendance at clinics

Getting research into policy and practice

INSTITUTE OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (IDS)
October 2009

Expand view

This issue focuses on the innovative approaches to communicating research experiences being used by researchers and communication experts around sexual and reproductive health and HIV and AIDS globally. It includes specific articles about Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Bangladesh

Global Fourm update on research for health volume 4|Equitable access : research challenges for health in developing countries

MATLIN, Stephen
Ed
2007

Expand view

This volume reflects the current state of health research in ensuring equitable access. The topics covered range from access to health, innovation and research resources to decision-making and governance. To achieve better health, particularly among the poor and marginalised in low- and high-income countries alike, there is a need to improve health systems and services, to ensure equitable and affordable access to these and to good quality medicines, and to address social inequities that produce and exacerbate poor health. Beyond the treatment of ill-health, much more attention is needed to create the conditions that enable individuals, communities and countries to promote better health

Going beyond research : a key issues paper raising discussion points related to dissemination, utilisation and impact of reproductive and sexual health research

ASKEW, Ian,
MATTHEWS, Zoe,
PARTRIDGE, Rachel
2001

Expand view

Focuses on applied or operations or health services research and reviews how this is implemented. Considers utlisation, communication and evaluation of research, in the field of reproductive and sexual health in particular. Reviews a range of methods useful for evaluating the impact of research

Guide for documenting and sharing 'best practices' in health programmes

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO), REGIONAL OFFICE FOR AFRICA
2008

Expand view

This document provides guidance on the process for identifying, documenting and sharing knowledge on country experiences in the planning, implementation and monitoring of health programmes and services that can be considered as 'Best Practices' and that can contribute to the acceleration and expansion of health sector actions. It has been written for WHO staff, ministries of health and civil society organisations

How to investigate the use of medicines by consumers

HARDON, Anita,
HODGKIN, Catherine,
FRESLE, Daphne
2004

Expand view

This manual is a practical guide to the use of research methods for investigating medicines use by consumers, particularly those in developing countries, in order to identify problems, design interventions and measure changes. It will help health workers, policy-makers, administrators, researchers, educationalists, medical and pharmacy students, and many others to go beyond the individual and to the study the community as a focus. Topics covered include the reasons for studying medicine use by consumers, what influences consumer choice, and how to prioritise and analyse community medicines use problems. There are chapters on sampling and data analysis, and the manual concludes by looking at the important issue of monitoring and evaluating interventions

Knowledge translation : a Research Matters toolkit|Bridging the 'know-do' gap : a resource for researchers

CAMPBELL, Sandy
et al
November 2008

Expand view

Knowledge Translation (KT) works to knit together research and action. "An intensely social process, KT depends upon relationships....[It has] three core principles: - Knowledge. KT efforts at any level depend upon a robust, accessible and contextualized knowledge base. - Dialogue. The relationships at the heart of KT can only be sustained through regular, two-way dialogue and exchange. - Capacity. Researchers, decision-makers and other research-users require a strengthened skill-base to create and respond to KT opportunities." The introduction is also available in French

Linking research : policy and practice to improve equity in health care in Malawi. REACH : challenging barriers to health care

DUNN, Alison
August 2005

Expand view

This briefing paper considers the findings of research conducted by REACH, an independent research trust in Malawi, on poverty and access to health care services at community level. It looks at the processes used by REACH to communicate findings into policy and practice. These include developing relationships with policymakers to enhance ownership of the research process, advocating research findings at policy fora, presenting findings generated by a range of research methods, and strategically framing the research in different discourses (eg poverty, gender) depending on the audience

Making a difference : M&E of policy research

HOVLAND, Ingie
July 2007

Expand view

"This paper aims to advance understanding on how to monitor and evaluate policy research, i.e. research that is undertaken in order to inform and influence public policy. Policy is defined very broadly to encompass both policy decisions and processes, including implementation..."

Making health communication programs work

NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
2002

Expand view

This handbook presents key principles and steps in developing and evaluating health communication program for the public, patients, and health professionals. It expands upon and replaces two earlier publications titled Pretesting in Health Communications and Making PSA's Work. Referring primarily to the context of the United States, the guide discusses specific steps in program development and includes examples of their use. Sources of additional information on each subject are included at the end of the chapters

Maximising the impact of development research : how can funders encourage more effective research communication?

BARNARD, Geoff,
CARLILE, Liz,
RAY, Deepayan Basu
2006

Expand view

This Report is the main output of a workshop that was held in October 2006 to ask the question How can funders encourage more effective research communication? The workshop brought together invited participants drawn from three groups: research funders (international agencies, foundations, and research councils involved in funding development research); research organisations and networks from around the world involved in carrying out research, and with an interest in effective research communication; and knowledge intermediaries involved in communicating research

New DFID research strategy : communications theme. Final report

DODSWORTH, Elizabeth
et al
December 2003

Expand view

Reviews the background and recommendations for the communication component of DFIDs new research strategy. Concludes that policy processes are complex and that research-based evidence is only one of the many competing influences on policy makers, development practitioners and end users. Outlines a number of gaps in flows of research information and how these may be addressed. Acknowledges the vital role of communication while also noting the importance of context and enabling environments in which the repackaging and circulation of information takes place and that intermediaries and networks are a vital part of this process. The political context and the complex relationships between people are key. Highlights a number of initiatives of European donors to strengthen southern research capacity and initiatives to facilitate knowledge and research sharing by a range of intermediary communication organisations

Overview of health communication campaigns

THE HEALTH COMMUNICATION UNIT
March 2007

Expand view

This guide provides a hands-on 12-step process to developing health communication campaigns. Each chapter is created according to the steps, with information on what the step is, why it is important and what is required to carry it out

Research and development for medicines to be driven by needs of low and middle income countries

COUNCIL ON HEALTH RESEARCH FOR DEVELOPMENT (COHRED)
June 2008

Expand view

This briefing highlights from health research issues discussed at the World Health Assembly and the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG). The IGWG process has important implications and considerations for health research and the role that developing countries can play

Sound choices : enhancing capacity for evidence-informed health policy

GREEN, Andrew,
BENNETT, Sara
2007

Expand view

This review addresses a mismatch between what is known about how to respond to particular health problems in poor economies and what is actually done about them. It focuses on one cause of the problems that ensue from the mismatch -capacity constraints. Weak capacity at a number of levels in the institutions and interfaces between knowledge generation and use in policy-making has been identified by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) as a key strategic issue in addressing health care in low-income countries

Spreading the word : disseminating research findings

WOODFELD, Julie

Expand view

This document looks at the methods of disseminating research findings. It looks at the advantages and disadvantages of a variety of dissemination pathways, including e-mail, working documents, research reports, academic journals, conferences / workshops / seminars, participatory techniques, mass media, and intermediaries

Spreading the word further : guidelines for research disseminating development research

FISHER, Julie,
ODHIAMBO, Frank,
COTTON, Andrew
2003

Expand view

[Publisher's abstract] This book is a product of the second phase of a DFID-funded KaR project that is aimed at increasing the impact of research through improved dissemination of the research process and findings. It develops the ideas from phase one of the project 'Spreading the Word: Practical guidelines for research dissemination strategies' (Saywell and Cotton, 1999) (Source record number 35244). Based on in-depth consultation with Southern agencies about appropriate methods and formats by which to share information and knowledge relating to development research projects, this book provides dissemination checklists and guidelines. It also provides a useful overview of the issues and more specific advise for anyone engaged in development-related research, whether as contractors, practitioners or donors, at all stages of the project cycle

Strengthening health systems : the role and promise of policy and systems research

ALLIANCE FOR HEALTH POLICY AND SYSTEMS RESEARCH (AHPSR)
2004

Expand view

Looks at the relative influence of policy and systems research on health systems in practice. Case studies illustrate the application of health systems research to solving problems of policy and practice. Addresses a number of key areas such as: the setting of research priorities, getting research into policy and practice, and developing research capacity in developing countries

Successful communication : a toolkit for researchers and civil society organisations

HOVLAND, Ingie
October 2005

Expand view

From the introduction: "This toolkit is for researchers and practitioners who wish to communicate to policymakers. The tools are therefore specifically geared towards the needs of researchers and practitioners in civil society organisations (CSOs), including development NGOs, research institutes, think tanks, universities and networks. The toolkit addresses the questions of how researchers and CSOs can best communicate evidence in order to inform or influence policy, to achieve their own stated development objectives, or simply to make their own knowledge accessible and understandable to a wider audience." After a brief but useful introduction, tools are presented in four sections: planning, packaging, targeting and monitoring

Systems thinking for health systems strengthening

Eds
2009

Expand view

This third report knits together earlier work by accelerating a more realistic understanding of what works in strengthening health systems, for whom and under what circumstances. Its primary goal is to catalyse new conceptual thinking on health systems, system-level interventions, and health system strengthening

Tools for policy impact : a handbook for researchers

START, Daniel,
HOVLAND, Ingie
October 2004

Expand view

"This handbook presents work in progress on tools for policy impact, specifically geared towards the needs of researchers. "The handbook is particularly targeted at civil society organisations, or the parts of them, whose activities involve gathering evidence, doing research, learning lessons or advising on strategy for social, environmental and economic development in the North and South"

Using research to inform health policy : barriers and strategies in developing countries

HENNINK, Monique,
STEPHENSON, Rob
2004

Expand view

Looks at the uptake of health research into policy in four developing countries - Malawi, Tanzania, India and Pakistan. Identifies a range of barriers to effective dissemination and uptake of research results based on interviews with researchers, policy-makers and a range of stakeholders. Makes recommendations for donor support to developing country research capacity and greater involvement of practitioners and policy-makers in the south in research priorities and applications

Working with the media : a guide for researchers

PANOS
2006

Expand view

"This guide has been designed to support strategic thinking on media engagement and to address researchers' need to act autonomously. "It offers step-by-step practical advice on working with different sections of the media, as well as considerations in developing a media strategy. The guide is predominantly aimed at UK staff but many of the points are relevant for researchers internationally"

Journal articles

Bridging the gaps between research, policy and practice in low- and middle-income countries : a survey of health care providers

GUINDON, G Emmanuel
et al
May 2010

Expand view

This article discusses the results of a survey to examine the gaps that continue to exist between research based evidence and clinical practice. Health care providers in 10 low- and middle-income countries were surveyed about their use of research-based evidence and examined factors that may facilitate or impede such use. The conclusion is that locally conducted or published research plays an important role in changing the professional practice of health care providers surveyed in low- and middle-income countries and increased investments in local research, or at least in locally adapted publications of research-based evidence from other settings, are therefore needed. Although access to the Internet was viewed as a significant factor in whether research-based evidence led to concrete changes in practice, few respondents reported having easy access to the Internet. Therefore, efforts to improve Internet access in clinical settings need to be accelerate

Bridging the gaps between research, policy and practice in low- and middle-income countries a survey of researchers

LAVIS, John N
et al
May 2010

Expand view

This article describes the findings from a study which examined efforts to bridge the gaps between research, policy and practice in 10 low- and middle-income countries in which researchers conducting research in one of four clinical areas relevant to the Millennium Development Goals: prevention of malaria (Ghana, Laos, Senegal and Tanzania), care of women seeking contraception (China, Kazakhstan, Laos and Mexico), care of children with diarrhoea (Ghana, India, Pakistan and Senegal) and care of patients with tuberculosis (China, India, Iran and Mexico) were surveyed

Research to practice [whole issue]

BEST, Kim
Ed
2003

Expand view

Examines the challenges of getting medical and public health research into practice in resource-poor settings. Addresses practice at the policy, organisational and individual levels. Uses brief case studies from the field of reproductive health to illustrate points

SUPPORT tools for evidence-informed health policymaking (STP)

OXMAN, Andy,
HANNEY, Stephen
Eds
December 2009

Expand view

This is a set of 18 tools that can be used by those involved in finding and using research evidence to support evidence-informed health policy making. The series addresses four broad areas: supporting evidence-informed policymaking; identifying needs for research evidence; finding and assessing research evidence; and, going from research evidence to decisions

Multimedia

Measuring medicine prices, availability, affordability and price components

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO),
HEALTH ACTION INTERNATIONAL (HAI)
2008

Expand view

This manual is to help governments, civil society groups and others concerned about the prices of medicines to collect and analyse: medicine prices (patient prices and government procurement prices) across sectors and regions in a country; medicine availability; treatment affordability; and all price components in the supply chain from manufacturer to patient (taxes, mark-ups etc.). It is accompanied by a CD-ROM which contains a more extensive collection resources and tools, such as sample training materials, frequently asked questions, and a report template for use in developing national survey reports

Websites

Bridging research and policy

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK (GDNET)

Expand view

The goal of RAPNet website is to help establish a community of scholars and practitioners working at the interface of research and policymaking around the globe. It provides a regularly updated news page and a quarterly electronic newsletter alerting subscribers and network members of relevant activities, resources and training opportunities; case-study material (original electronic documents whenever possible), including one-page abstracts and synthesis documents drawing out the key themes; e-discussions on evidence-based policy making in specific regions and sectors; links to related literature, research projects, contacts, and towards the end of the Bridging and Research Project, conclusions, recommendations, practical guides and training materials; and seminars to enhance the capacity of researchers based in low and middle-income countries to engage in knowledge transfer activities.
RAPNet was piloted during 2003 as a 'community of practice' for the Bridging Research and Policy Project which aims to improve understanding of the links between research and policy, and to bridge the gap between researchers, policymakers and intermediary organisations such as media and professional associations in order to promote evidence-based policymaking in low and middle income countries

Bridging research and policy : introduction and key themes

March 2004

Expand view

A list of useful documents and key themes around the area of bridging research and policy are identified. Key themes include: the policy cycle - identifying 'spaces' for research to inform policy; policy making - comprehensive or chaotic? how and why research is used by policy makers; improving the take up of research knowledge - the role of knowledge brokers and enhancing the use of research knowledge. A select bibliography in the final section contains useful references

Global Development Network : generating, sharing and applying knowledge for development

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK (GDN)

Expand view

The Global Development Network (GDN) is a global network of research and policy institutes working together to address the problems of national and regional development. It supports multidisciplinary research in social sciences; promotes the generation of local knowledge in developing and transition countries; produces policy relevant knowledge on a global scale; builds research capacity to advance development and alleviate poverty; facilitates knowledge sharing among researchers and policymakers; and disseminates development knowledge to the public and policymakers

Health research web

COUNCIL ON HEALTH RESEARCH FOR DEVELOPMENT (COHRED)

Expand view

This website provides information on national health research systems in low and middle income countries. It would be useful for anyone involved in health research at a national or at international level, policy makers, research managers, researchers, health care practitioners, health system managers, civil society and development professionals. Individuals actively involved in health research in their country (either as researcher, policy maker, or user) are encouraged to become active contributors to the site

ODI Research and policy in development (RAPID) Programme

Expand view

This website for ODI's Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme provides a range of information on the use of research and evidence in development policy and practice. The site includes lessons from the programme so far, current and past projects, bibliographies, and links to related work. The RAPID programme aims to improve the use of research in development policy and practice through improved knowledge about research-policy links; improved knowledge management and learning systems; improved communication; and improved awareness of the importance of research. It addresses the role of evidence in policy processes; improved communication and information systems for policy and practice; and approaches to institutional development for evidence-based policy

Public engagement with science on the internet

Wellcome Library

Expand view

"A gateway to Internet resources on public engagement with science and technology and science communication. Produced by the Wellcome Library in collaboration with Intute, Psci-com consists of a growing searchable database of websites, a calendar of events, online bibliographies and links to an associated email discussion list. Websites included in the database include science communication courses, sources of funding for public engagement activities, key reports and documents, and primary source surveys and opinion polls"

SciDev.Net : Science and development network

Expand view

This website offers policymakers, researchers, the media and civil society information and a platform to explore how science and technology can reduce poverty, improve health and raise standards of living around the world. SciDev.Net also builds developing countries’ capacity for communicating science and technology through regional networks of committed individuals and organisations, practical guidance and specialist workshops

Suriname indigenous health fund (SIH Fund)

Expand view

This is the website for a project which gives indigenous people in Suriname's interior Greenstone Belt region with the materials and technical support they need to self-diagnose the effects of mercury pollution from gold-mining on their community's and their environment's health