Combining public health evidence, policy experience and communications expertise to inform preventive health: reflections on a novel method of knowledge synthesis

Maddie Heenan, Alexandra Chung, Elly Howse, Helen Signy, Lucie Rychetnik

Research output: Contribution to journalComment / DebateOtherpeer-review


Knowledge synthesis methods help summarize evidence and utilize content expertise to draw out key messages to aid knowledge mobilization and translation. Systems thinking and coproduction can support this by facilitating a multiperspective view and ensuring that knowledge is mobilized and translated in a useful and meaningful way for policy-makers and practitioners. In this paper, we describe the development of a knowledge synthesis approach that utilizes coproduction with policy-makers to combine the findings of a programme of research with policy knowledge to support decision-makers working in chronic disease prevention. The process developed by The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre combined the expertise of research, policy and science communications experts. We reflect on how we used coproduction processes to embed policy-makers as partners in the evidence synthesis process via research-policy dialogues, and embedded science communication into the development and presentation of the findings. This differs from a more common approach of researchers generating evidence for policy with limited input from policy-makers themselves. By collaborating with policy-makers and using coproduction, we can better inform policy-relevant research and generate policy-relevant knowledge. We describe the development of our knowledge synthesis approach using two case studies: the first drawing on a body of work in public health law, and the second on a body of work focused on the first 2000 days of life. We consider how these case studies demonstrate the value of working with policy partners as part of a knowledge synthesis process, and discuss how this process could be adapted and used in future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2023


  • Coproduction
  • Evidence synthesis
  • Knowledge translation
  • Prevention

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