Beyond Evidence-Based Policy in Public Health: The Interplay by Katherine Smith (auth.)

By Katherine Smith (auth.)

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2012: p. 4). Within academia, the ongoing policy interest in research utilisation is now being supported by the Research Excellent Framework, the main means of assessing the performance of UK universities. In 2014, for the first time, this assessment (which replaces the Research Assessment Exercise) will reward demonstrative evidence of research use, allocating 20 per cent of funding on the basis of institutional case studies of ‘research impact’. This shift is being accompanied by growing efforts among UK research-funding councils and other major funders to promote academic strategies for achieving ‘research impact’ (see Smith, Ward and House 2011).

Between them, the theories discussed in this sub-section suggest that researchers and their ideas may contribute to gradual policy learning or to the changing ideas held by rational policy actors or diverse policy networks. However, they provide very little scope for explaining how or why significant shifts in policy might occur, or why individuals’ preferences might significantly change. As such, the potential role of research (or evidence) on policy is limited to supporting incremental or low-level change.

Clark and Kelly 2005; Secretary of State for Wales 1998). In Scotland this has been evidenced by some of the work undertaken by a policy arm of the National Health Service (NHS) called NHS Health Scotland and by a decision by the Scottish Executive (as it was originally known; now the Scottish Government) to provide funding for the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (Scottish Executive Health Department 2004). In Wales, the emphasis was reflected in a decision to commission Professor Peter Townsend to lead an evidence-based review of Welsh approaches to health policy (Townsend 2005) and, more recently, to establish Public Health Wales as an all-Wales NHS Trust, incorporating the Welsh Public Health Observatory, in 2009.

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