Type, frequency and purpose of information used to inform public health policy and program decision-making

Pauline Zardo, Alexander Collie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is a growing demand for researchers to document the impact of research to demonstrate how it contributes to community outcomes. In the area of public health it is expected that increases in the use of research to inform policy and program development will lead to improved public health outcomes. To determine whether research has an impact on public health outcomes, we first need to assess to what extent research has been used and how it has been used. However, there are relatively few studies to date that have quantitatively measured the extent and purpose of use of research in public health policy environments. This study sought to quantitatively measure the frequency and purpose of use of research evidence in comparison to use of other information types in a specific public health policy environment, workplace and transport injury prevention and rehabilitation compensation. Methods: A survey was developed to measure the type, frequency and purpose of information used to inform policy and program decision-making. Results: Research evidence was the type of information used least frequently and internal data and reports was the information type used most frequently. Findings also revealed differences in use of research between and within the two government public health agencies studied. In particular the main focus of participants day-to-day role was associated with the type of information used. Research was used mostly for conceptual purposes. Interestingly, research was used for instrumental purposes more often than it was used for symbolic purposes, which is contrary to findings of previous research. Conclusions: These results have implications for the design and implementation of research translation interventions in the context within which the study was undertaken. In particular, they suggest that intervention will need to be targeted to the information needs of the different role groups within an organisation. The results can also be utilised as a baseline measure for intervention evaluations and assessments of research impact in this context.
Original languageEnglish
Article number381
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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