Evidence briefs/issue briefs
Evidence briefs and issue briefs are produced by the Forum to inform stakeholder dialogues.
An evidence brief starts with a policy issue, for instance strengthening the provision of primary healthcare or the need for wider support across health systems to manage chronic pain. It identifies the available research evidence on these high-priority issues. Elements of each brief include:
- what is known about the underlying problems
- possible policy and program options to address the problem, including an outline of the known benefits, harms and costs of these options
- a review of the barriers to implementation and strategies to address them.
An issue brief is similar to the evidence brief in terms of mobilizing research evidence about a problem, possible options for addressing it, and key implementation considerations. Issue briefs are undertaken on policy issues where an evidence synthesis has already been prepared (so a comprehensive search for research evidence is not needed), or a 'one-stop shop' for systematic reviews doesn't exist (so a comprehensive search for research evidence could not be conducted in a timely way).
Once evidence or issue briefs have been used by dialogue participants, the Forum distributes them widely and posts them on this website to encourage broader, informed dialogue and debate about a specific health issue.
Stakeholder dialogues are one of the Forum’s core programs and build around a deliberative dialogues approach. Dialogues consist of a multi-stage process that aim to ensure relevant evidence on pressing health concerns is used to fuel action for improving health outcomes through collective problem solving. The innovative program developed by the Forum focuses attention on a health challenge by marshalling research evidence and convening stakeholders for an off-the-record discussion that will inform future actions and policymaking. The dialogues involve representation from many groups who would be involved in or affected by decisions on the issue, including policymakers, health providers, researchers and other stakeholders. The entire group learns from the different views and experience at the table. This mixing can uncover unique understandings of the underlying problem, and spark insights for viable solutions and key implementation considerations that can only come about when all of those involved in or affected by future decisions related to the issue can work through it together.
Steps in a dialogue
- Preparatory consultations help to frame and characterize the challenge and the possible ways to address it.
- Before the event, we prepare and circulate an evidence brief that mobilizes relevant research evidence. Evidence briefs are made publicly available after the event has taken place.
- We convene 18 to 22 policymakers, stakeholders and researchers for an off-the-record dialogue that prepares each participant to champion efforts to address the challenge.
- After the event, we prepare and circulate a dialogue summary (as one type of event 'footprint' that will benefit others around the world). This document is made publicly available on the Forum's website. We also provide customized post-event briefings to dialogue partners to further prepare them to tackle the challenge.
- We provide a year-long evidence service that highlights newly published or identified research evidence that can add momentum to change efforts or suggest the need for a change in direction to address the challenge.
- We evaluate the key features of both the evidence brief and stakeholder dialogue to ensure that the process contributes to our collective understanding about how insights can best be stimulated and action generated.
Stakeholder dialogues address some of the factors that have been identified as ways to increase the use of research evidence in policymaking and support the translation of research evidence into action. First, dialogues increase interaction among policymakers and researchers and build the informal relationships that have been shown to increase the use of research evidence. Second, dialogues can be organized on short notice in order to respond in a timely way to a 'window of opportunity.' Third, dialogues enable all participants to understand how the existing research evidence does or does not align with the existing beliefs, values, interests or political goals of key stakeholders (including within their own stakeholder group), and therefore where opportunities for synergy can be capitalized upon and tensions can be addressed more openly.
To view a list of all of our stakeholders dialogues, visit our Events page.
For more information on how stakeholder dialogues can be organized, view the following series of short videos created as part of the World Health Organization’s SURE (Supporting the Use of Research Evidence to Strengthen African Health Systems) project. They feature Forum Director John Lavis, as well as several African researchers and policymakers describing their experience with stakeholder dialogues. The videos use the term policy dialogues to refer to what the Forum calls stakeholder dialogues.
John Lavis on stakeholder dialogues
Facilitating a stakeholder dialogue
Consensus in a stakeholder dialogue
Reflections on organizing and hosting stakeholder dialogues
Following is a list of topics of future dialogues, and a list of the most recent stakeholder dialogues and related products available.