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Table 1 Comparing three systematic reviews on evidence-based policy

From: New directions in evidence-based policy research: a critical analysis of the literature

  Orton, 2011 Innvær, 2002 Oliver, 2014
Aims To synthesise evidence about the extent, types, process of evidence use, and barriers and facilitators Synthesise facilitators of and barriers to the use of research evidence by health policymakers To update Innvær 2002 and identify new evidence in this area
Inclusion criteria and search date Europe, Canada, Australia, and NZ only, must explore “how research evidence is used in decision-making for public health”. Primary studies only Interview studies with health policy decision-makers responsible for decisions on behalf of organisations All studies reporting barriers or facilitators of use of evidence, from 2002–2011
Types of studies included 18 included, interviews and surveys 24 studies in 26 papers, interviews and surveys 145 included studies: 13 systematic reviews, 42 interviews/qualitative studies, 13/25 entirely/included survey
Types of results presented PMs perceptions about the use of evidence; qualitative and closed-response PMs perceptions about the use of evidence; qualitative and closed-response. Types of ‘use’, theories about evidence use Perceived and observed factors affecting evidence use; definitions of evidence; theories used in included studies
Use of evidence? Self-reported use of evidence in 2 studies, undermined by quality concerns 21/24 examined actual decision-making processes, all measured perceptions of use or hypothetical use of evidence 33 studies examine research uptake (amount/rate), 50 examine processes of research uptake, 18 examine the impact of research use
Synthesis and QA used Narrative synthesis; CASP-based QA Descriptive synthesis; methodological QA Descriptive synthesis; no QA
Main facilitators Improved relationships; researchers trained to disseminate, clear, relevant and easy-access research; PM trained in research skills; change of policy culture Personal contact between researchers and PMs; timeliness and relevance of research, with clear recommendations and high quality; research confirming current policy Available, clear and relevant research evidence; relationships, collaboration, and contact between researchers and PMs; timing, practical managerial support
Main barriers Unclear, irrelevant or low-quality evidence. ‘Gulf’ between researchers and policymakers. Lack of PM research skills. Other pressures; practical constraints: financial, time frames, access to research, presentation, and interpretation Absence of personal contact between researchers and policymakers; lack of timeliness or relevance; mutual mistrust between scientists and policymakers Power and budget struggles lack of clear or relevant research evidence and costs; lack of timeliness or opportunity; lack of PM research skills or awareness
Theory None cited Weiss, Caplan; two-communities thesis Range of theories, reports which papers used which theory
Conclusions and implications Action to address the barriers and facilitators needs to be taken; training to overcome barriers to research use; research on interventions to increase research uptake Studies partially support common beliefs about barriers and facilitators, with little empirical evidence; no strong recommendations about research and policy can be made; limited data support two-communities and Weiss’s theories Research into managerial and organizational barriers may be more useful than individual-level; relational approach could be used