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The use of evidence in English local public health decision-making: a systematic scoping review

Kneale, D; Rojas-Garcia, A; Raine, R; Thomas, J; (2017) The use of evidence in English local public health decision-making: a systematic scoping review. Implementation Science , 12 , Article 53. 10.1186/s13012-017-0577-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Background Public health decision-making structures in England have transformed since the implementation of reforms in 2013, with responsibility for public health services and planning having shifted from the “health” boundary to local authority (LA; local government) control. This transformation may have interrupted flows of research evidence use in decision-making and introduced a new political element to public health decision-making. For generators of research evidence, understanding and responding to this new landscape and decision-makers’ evidence needs is essential. Methods We conducted a systematic scoping review of the literature, drawing upon four databases and undertaking manual searching and citation tracking. Included studies were English-based, published in 2010 onwards, and were focused on public health decision-making, including the utilisation or underutilisation of research evidence use, in local (regional or sub-regional) areas. All studies presented empirical findings collected through primary research methods or through the reanalysis of existing primary data. Results From a total of 903 records, 23 papers from 21 studies were deemed to be eligible and were included for further data extraction. Three clear trends in evidence use were identified: (i) the primacy of local evidence, (ii) the important role of local experts in providing evidence and knowledge, and (iii) the high value placed on local evaluation evidence despite the varying methodological rigour. Barriers to the use of research evidence included issues around access and availability of applicable research evidence, and indications that the use of evidence could be perceived as a bureaucratic process. Two new factors resulting from reforms to public health structures were identified that potentially changed existing patterns of research evidence use and decision-making requirements: (i) greater emphasis among public health practitioners on the perceived uniqueness of LA areas and structures following devolution of public health into LAs and (ii) challenges introduced in responding to higher levels of local political accountability. Conclusions There is a need to better understand and respond to the evidence needs of decision-makers working in public health and to work more collaboratively in developing solutions to the underutilisation of research evidence in decision-making.

Type: Article
Title: The use of evidence in English local public health decision-making: a systematic scoping review
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13012-017-0577-9
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1186/s13012-017-0577-9
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s). 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Public health, decision-making, evidence, research evidence, localism, systematic review
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Applied Health Research
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1551668
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