How can researchers generate meaningful public health policy impact? A meta-ethnography of case studies
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Gentry, S., Milden, L., & Kelly, M. (2017). How can researchers generate meaningful public health policy impact? A meta-ethnography of case studies. The Lancet, 390 S39-S39. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(17)32974-4
Background: Generation of meaningful public health policy impact from research is challenging. Research of similar quality often has differential uptake and lag time is considerable, estimated at approximately 17 years. Impact is often described in terms of linear and cyclical models, in which the production of research findings compels action, but such conceptualisations do not appear to have supported translation. This work uses meta-ethnography to synthesise case studies exploring how researchers have generated public health policy impact, to identify transferable lessons for promoting evidence based policies and see if this method can provide greater insight than commonly presented linear and cyclical models. Methods: Meta-ethnography of 21 case studies of researchers from across the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, who feel they have achieved public health impact from their work, including contributing to guidance, policies and strategies locally, national and internationally and developing new tools and technology used in practice. Cases were chosen for richness of data and perspectives from a convenience sample. Findings: Eight constructs were identified: expertise; motivation; practical solutions to important problems; support structure and funding; collaboration; wide dissemination and use of media to contribute ideas to the wider narrative; understanding the policy realm; and models of impact. These results suggest researchers seeking to obtain impact need to be highly motivated; develop expertise in their field; and seek to conduct research that provides practical solutions to problems that are of interest, or may become of interest, to policy makers. They need to work to understand the policy realm, including the importance of timing, and build trusting relationships with policy makers, through the media, to contribute ideas to the wider narrative. Being prepared with accessible information when policy makers become interested in their work and collaborating with others are also key. Interpretation: The process of translation of research into impact appears more complex than that suggested by linear and cyclical models. Success involves seeking to shape wider debates, building relationships with policy makers, becoming a trusted collaborator and being available to provide relevant and practical solutions to questions of concern to policy makers at the appropriate time.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(17)32974-4
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/270589