Evidence 2018 Workshop Sessions – Tuesday 25 September 2018

Workshop 1, 09h00 – 10h30

Introduction to evidence synthesis and systematic reviews (Prof. Sandy Oliver, EPPI Centre)

To introduce systematic review methods that address questions that arise at different stages of policy development, questions about: understanding the nature and scale of a problem; comparing the policy options; and implementing the chosen policy. The session is designed to suit participants thinking of using systematic reviews, commissioning systematic reviews, or conducting systematic reviews. They may be looking for an introduction to the evidence synthesis and systematic reviews or wanting to know more about the broad range of approaches available and how to make them more relevant for policy discussions.

This session will introduce participants to a spectrum of systematic review methods that seek to: (a) understand the nature of a problem using qualitative studies and qualitative analytical methods; (b) test a hypothesis using quantitative studies and quantitative analytical methods; or (c) explore existing theories – whether they are well developed or implicit – with mixed methods. It will provide examples of systematic reviews that have made a difference to policy decisions, and then consider what characteristics of systematic reviews make them relevant to policy discussions and decisions, and how policy makers and researchers can work together to make systematic reviews more relevant to policy evidence needs. There will be an opportunity for participants to apply the fundamental principles to areas of their own interest and consider ways of working that might suit their own organisational context. A mixed group of participants will allow exploration of systematic reviews from the perspectives of research and policy, including policy development and policy implementation.

Target audience
Policy makers, researchers and students, of any level.

Workshop 2, 11h00 – 12h30

How can research organizations more effectively disseminate their research to, and support the use of research evidence by, decision-makers (Prof. John Lavis, McMaster University)

To understand the questions that need to be answered by organizations so that they can position themselves within the ecosystem of organizations supporting the use of research evidence by decision-makers

John will walk participants through a series of four questions: 1) is your organization’s research relevant to decision-makers and, if so, how are the relevant types of decisions made in your context?; 2) does your organization’s research help with clarifying problems, framing options, identifying implementation considerations, or planning for monitoring and evaluation?; 3) does your organization have the time and resources to: a) put the research in the context of all of the other research evidence that addresses the same question (i.e., a systematic review), b) put the research in the context of all of the other types of research evidence needed to inform policymaking (e.g., evidence brief for policy)? c) put the research in the context of all influences on decision-making (e.g., stakeholder dialogue); and 4) what can your organization do more generally to support the use of research evidence by decision-makers? He will focus mostly on policymakers as one key type of decision-maker. For each question, workshop participants will be engaged in discussions about what their organizations are doing now and what it would take to move towards achieving greater impact.

Target audience

  • Directors and staff of research organizations and organizations that support the use of research evidence by decision-makers.
  • Appropriate for any those with any level of background knowledge and experience.

Workshop 3, 13h30-15h00

Networking between Francophone and Anglophone Africa: bridging a post-colonial divide (Prof. Ruth Stewart, ACE/AEN & Ms. Beryl Leach, 3ie)

This session aims to identify why networks in Africa have tended to follow historical post-colonial regional and language demarcations and examine what reinforces and reproduces the continuing divide between Francophone and Anglophone development programmes, funding and networking. Together participants will explore a number of related questions.

(a) What makes sense to keep the way it is?
(b) What would need to change and who needs to be willing to change?
(c) What is the appropriate role of the Africa Evidence Network, given these realities, as an informal network and with limited resources in working in both regions?

In this 90-minute session, panellists will provide an overview of why the divide exists, how networking in Africa has tended to follow it and why and provide current examples. The audience will be invited to share their insights and experiences and identify what they think works and doesn’t and what would be required to work differently.

Workshop 4, 15h30 – 17h00

Introduction to Evidence informed decision-making (Tamara Kredo, Cochrane South Africa)

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to

  • Define evidence informed decision-making
  • Briefly describe role of systematic reviews in evidence informed decision-making
  • Outline the GRADE ‘Evidence to Decision’ framework for policy development
  • Discuss barriers to and facilitators of evidence informed decision making

Policymakers, researchers, practitioners and the public need to know how to find and use high quality, relevant research to inform their decisions. Overall, this workshop aims to increase awareness about the approach to evidence informed decision-making and share information about the tools available to support the process.

Evidence-informed decision-making involves several well described steps for integrating the best available research evidence alongside other context or individual factors into the decision-making process. Best available evidence is derived from well conducted systematic reviews. These systematic reviews provide reliable evidence to address different questions by identifying and evaluating all relevant primary research studies and synthesising their results, while applying rigorous and explicit methods to minimize bias and random error in research.

Despite known steps in evidence informed decision-making, there are challenges. There are potential barriers to using evidence to inform decisions, as well as potential enablers. There are increasingly tools to support the processes required for evidence informed decision-making. As an example, we will introduce the GRADE ‘Evidence to Decision’ framework designed to support a transparent evidence to policy process.

Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council

Target audience
This workshop is relevant for practitioners, policy-makers, consumers and researchers who have an interest in or are involved in making decisions about which interventions to implement.