Research Utilization: An Approach to Getting Evidence Shared & Used

This post original appeared on Springboard for Heath Communication on June 28, 2018.

The ultimate goal of knowledge management in global health programs is to ensure that evidence is applied at all levels of the health system. However, researchers, policy-makers, and program implementers have identified numerous barriers and challenges to getting evidence used.


Translating evidence into action at the global, regional, and national levels calls for two-way knowledge exchange between research producers (i.e. the researchers) and evidence users (i.e. policy makers, program implementers, and service providers).

Research utilization offers a process to foster effective knowledge exchange between these two groups to ensure that evidence incorporated into policies and programs. A hallmark of the research utilization process is putting the end-user at the center of each stage of the research process from developing and prioritizing research questions to ensuring recommendations are actionable and contextualized.  


Asking yourself these five questions will help ensure your evidence gets to the right people in the right ways. These questions should guide how evidence is translated, presented, and promoted for decision makers.

  1. What are the types of changes or decisions you anticipate could be made based on the evidence you’ll be generating? This is your goal. You may want improve the design of a new program or implementation of an existing; inform a national or global strategy; or influence funding priorities and resource allocation.

  2. Whose your audience? Think about who the decision makers and influential stakeholders you need to target to bring about the changes that you want. These might include government ministries, advocacy coalitions, service delivery organizations, or private sector partners to name a few.

  3. What level of information do they need? Select the most policy- or programmatically-relevant results from your research. Focus on crafting key messages that will help your audience understand the importance of your findings and their implications.

  4. What actions do they need to take? Lay out your recommendations clearly by getting specific about the actions needed, who needs to take them, and by when.

  5. How should this information be shared? Choose an appropriate, user-friendly format for your audience. You might consider producing a factsheet, policy brief, infographic, or short video to effectively communicate your key messages and action-oriented recommendations.



Carolyn Rodehau