Best Practice in Using Evidence for Health Policy: Do we know what it is?
Authors: Erica Bell, Suzie Waddingham, Elaine Hosken, Natalie Rudling, Sandra Murray, Suzanne Martin and Melissa Wagner
Abstract: This paper explores what is known about best practice in using evidence for health policy. The paper uses literature reviews across the disciplines, both scholarly and applied. It first highlights the uses of evidence in policy and the barriers to take-up of evidence. It argues that “evidence-based policy” as it is known in health is not necessarily well-informed policy. Second, the paper describes the key features of best practice in using evidence for health policy, with reference to the consensus in the multidisciplinary literature. It includes a summary of some key resources and guidelines about evidence for policy-making. The discussion of the literature suggests that best practice in using evidence is essentially about fitness for purpose, quality in diversity of evidence use, as well as authentic social accountability. The paper concludes that health policy-makers currently operate without explicit, agreed-upon guidelines for the use of evidence in policy-making. The paper raises the question of whether the mantra of “evidence-based policy-making” has ushered in an era of less, rather than more, democratic accountability. The description of best practice in using evidence in health policy-making given in the paper can be used by practitioners, patients and other stakeholders, as well as policy-makers themselves, to help clarify and deliver on popular expectations that policy be evidence-based.