PP5228 Evidence-informed policy development
Course instructors: Tikki Pang, Regina Lee Schedule: Tuesdays 14:00 to 17:00 Location: Manasseh Meyer SR3-4
Summary of the course:
The module will address the salient aspects of how evidence informs policy making, covering the following areas: needs assessment; evidence generation and synthesis; searching for evidence; presentation of evidence in an appropriate, useful and actionable manner; strengthening evidence generating and presenting capacity in low income countries; barriers and aids to use of evidence by policy-makers; engaging the public; and effectiveness of methods and processes to achieve evidence-informed policy. In order to illustrate concepts and practice, underlying principles are discussed using examples of policy development in various sectors of the economy. The module will emphasize case studies and policy briefs from real policy situations in different sectors of the economy but will also address the importance of sound conceptual frameworks and key processes inherent in successfully using evidence to inform policy. While all types of evidence will be discussed, the underlying emphasis of the module is on evidence derived from systematic research.
- Understanding the role of evidence amongst other factors in policymaking and needs for different types of evidence.
- In-depth knowledge about systematic evidence-gathering, assessment and synthesis for policymaking and processes necessary for bridging the know-do gap (knowledge translation, transfer or transformation).
- Ability to assess relevance and quality of evidence from abroad and the process of local adaptation.
- Knowledge of processes to deal with interests, beliefs, ideologies that compete with evidence in the policymaking process.
- Ability to translate lessons learnt in evidence-informed policy development in the health sector to policy formulation in other sectors.
The following topics are those which will be covered during the course-they do not represent weekly lecture titles. While every effort will be made to cover all topics, some flexibility, adjustments and modification may be necessary due to time constraints as well as the inclusion of selected case studies and guest lecturers-these may be introduced to the module to enhance and enrich the learning experience. Readings listed are suggested resources only to be consulted at
students’ discretion. Additional readings may also be introduced during the semester during class.
Topic 1: Introduction to the course content, requirements and expectations, the ‘why, what, how and who’
Topic 2: Conceptual and theoretical frameworks
-Basic concepts- Evidence, knowledge (including different types like tacit, scientific, operational, legal), research, information, data, beliefs, ideology, interests.
-Evidence based medicine and evidence-based policymaking. Differences, similarities, lessons learned from transferring the evidence-based approach from medicine to policymaking.
-Where does evidence fit in the policymaking process. Review of various conceptual approaches to thinking about evidence in the policymaking process.
Topics 3 and 4: Research design, evidence generation and synthesis (e.g. meta-analysis, systematic reviews, realist synthesis)
-Policy questions and relationship to evidence
-Research and other types of evidence, including an overview of research typology
-Advantages of systematic review, evidence synthesis
-Realist synthesis, synthesis of qualitative research, etc.
Topic 5: Understanding the needs of policy makers
Different dimensions of consideration
-Policy cycle, relevant policy questions at different stages.
-Type of policy decision (emergency, long-term planning, scientific guidelines, monitoring, surveillance, etc.)
Relevant objectives of the policy (usually focus on effectiveness, but should also consider equity, cost-effectiveness or efficiency, democratic processes and legitimacy).
-Meaning of information/knowledge/evidence at different levels of the health system
-Actors in the policy process and different evidence needs and factors affecting demand for evidence- (Researchers, policymakers, bureaucrats, knowledge brokers, etc.) (differences in cognitive ability, motivation, etc.)
-Other issues such as availability of evidence, nature of evidence, etc.
-Issues regarding need for evidence for adaptability/transferability will be discussed later.
Topic 6: Accessing evidence, assessing quality
-Introduce initiatives to help policymakers and academics in developing countries obtain access to on-line journals INASP, PLOS, WHO initiatives, DFID initiatives.
-Introduce various websites that contain synthesized information on development and other topics. (list will be provided covering health policy, development, environment and other areas like education, social welfare, crime and justice)
-An introduction to the concept of quality of evidence, the applicability of the GRADE scheme of evidence quality in EBM to policy development, barriers and transferability challenges, options for a way forward
Topic 7: Global evidence, local knowledge
-Lecture on integrating global evidence of what works with local knowledge, know-how, tacit knowledge, experience of the context.
-What kind of local knowledge, research is crucial (e.g. implementation research). What needs to be included in the global knowledge base to facilitate this kind of evidence generation. The challenges of systematically capturing local and tacit knowledge
Topic 8: Adapting and transferring evidence
-How evidence has been transferred to inform the development of global policy instruments
-How such evidence-informed policies can, in turn, be adapted, modified and transferred into norms and standards and policy instruments at the national level, and how this could become an iterative process with national experience feeding back to improving the global policies
-User friendly pictorial forms
Topic 9: Presenting evidence for policy development (e.g. statistical presentations, policy briefs, research summaries)
-Safe harbour forums, policy briefs
-What is ‘real world’ evidence : evidence and its context
Topic 10: Strengthening capacity on the supply side (evidence generation, synthesis and presentation) and demand side (requesting, accessing, appraising and using evidence) in low and middle income countries. Also a need for strengthening capacity of decision- and policy-makers to express their evidence needs
Topic 11: Mechanisms and processes to strengthen linkages between research and policy
-Knowledge transfer, translation, priority setting for research, etc. Discussion of principles, best practices and existing mechanisms/structures to facilitate such linkages.
Topic 12: Engaging the public
-Why are deliberative process needed in evidence-informed policymaking?
-What are different approaches to ensuring participation of stakeholders in evidence-informed policymaking?
Topic 13: Evidence in policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation, feedback into policies; Effectiveness of evidence use in policy-making and course review
-Monitoring, impact evaluation, methods, approaches, need for thinking about this during policy design.
-Additional approaches to enhance impact, e.g. use of health law
-Is research used in policymaking? How? How is this assessed? Why do we need to know?
-Review of the course contents
Reference Books (Title, ISBN No, Publisher)
An Introduction to Systematic Reviews D Gough, S Oliver, J Thomas (eds), 2013, (especially recommended)
|The Geek Manifesto M Henderson, 2012
(readable, accessible tome on why science matters)
|Evidence for Health: From Patient Choice to Global Policy
A Andermann, 2012
Multiple copies of these books have been requested and ordered and copies should be available at the NUS Library
Course Requirements and Grading & Evaluation
While not absolutely necessary, some background knowledge on research and experimental design would be an advantage.
The evaluation approach is to continuously assess students on various dimensions of comprehension & competence, connection, communication and contribution. It may include short reflection essays, presentations and a ‘competence’ exercise to assess students’ ability to search for evidence to answer a policy question. The final allocation/weighting of various components will be decided during Week 2 and is dependent on the final number of students enrolled, and their academic backgrounds and work experiences (if any).