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.
FIVE QUESTIONS TO HELP ENSURE EVIDENCE IS SHARED & USED
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HELPFUL RESEARCH UTILIZATION RESOURCES
Policy Communications Training (PRB): this user-friendly toolkit explains how research can inform decision makers; how to frame clear, actionable policy messages; and how to communicate those messages through policy briefs, presentations, data visualizations, social media, and more.
Research Utilization Framework (FHI360): this research utilization framework illustrates the knowledge exchange approach before, during, and after evidence is produced. Another related resource is this 8-page brief, which provides a set of eight strategies to help close the gap between research and practice.
Making Research Findings Actionable: A quick reference to communicating health information for decision-making (MEASURE Evaluation): this reference guide outlines an approach for developing a communication strategy that can help promote the use of evidence by decision makers.