The development of SAGE: A tool to evaluate how policymakers’ engage with and use research in health policymaking

Steve R. Makkar, Sue Brennan, Tari Turner, Anna Williamson, Sally Redman, Sally Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


It is essential that health policies are based on the best available evidence including that from research, to ensure their effectiveness in terms of both cost and health outcomes for the wider community. The present study describes the development of SAGE (Staff Assessment of enGagement with Evidence), a measure that combines an interview and document analysis to evaluate how policymakers engaged with research (i.e., how research was searched for, appraised, or generated, and whether interactions with researchers occurred), how policymakers used research (i.e., conceptually, instrumentally, tactically, or imposed), and what barriers impacted upon the use of research, in the development of a specific policy product. A multifaceted strategy was used to develop the SAGE interview and the accompanying interview-scoring tool. These included consultations with experts in health policy and research, review and analysis of the literature on evidence-informed policymaking and previous measures of research use, qualitative analysis of interviews with policymakers, and pilot-testing with senior policymakers. These steps led to the development of a comprehensive interview and scoring tool that captures and evaluates a broad range of key actions policymakers perform when searching for, appraising, generating, and using research to inform a specific policy product. Policy organizations can use SAGE to not only provide a thorough evaluation of their current level of research engagement and use, but to help shed light on programs to improve their research use capacity, and evaluate the success of these programs in improving the development of evidence-informed policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalResearch Evaluation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Evidence-based policy
  • Evidence-informed policy
  • Health policy
  • Knowledge translation
  • Measurement
  • Public health

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