Using conjoint analysis to develop a system to score research engagement actions by health decision makers

Steve R. Makkar, Anna Williamson, Tari Turner, Sally Redman, Jordan Louviere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Effective use of research to inform policymaking can be strengthened by policymakers undertaking various research engagement actions (e.g., accessing, appraising, and applying research). Consequently, we developed a thorough measurement and scoring tool to assess whether and how policymakers undertook research engagement actions in the development of a policy document. This scoring tool breaks down each research engagement action into its key 'subactions' like a checklist. The primary aim was to develop the scoring tool further so that it assigned appropriate scores to each subaction based on its effectiveness for achieving evidence-informed policymaking. To establish the relative effectiveness of these subactions, we conducted a conjoint analysis, which was used to elicit the opinions and preferences of knowledge translation experts. Method: Fifty-four knowledge translation experts were recruited to undertake six choice surveys. Respondents were exposed to combinations of research engagement subactions called 'profiles', and rated on a 1-9 scale whether each profile represented a limited (1-3), moderate (4-6), or extensive (7-9) example of each research engagement action. Generalised estimating equations were used to analyse respondents' choice data, where a utility coefficient was calculated for each subaction. A large utility coefficient indicates that a subaction was influential in guiding experts' ratings of extensive engagement with research. Results: The calculated utilities were used as the points assigned to the subactions in the scoring system. The following subactions yielded the largest utilities and were regarded as the most important components of engaging with research: searching academic literature databases, obtaining systematic reviews and peer-reviewed research, appraising relevance by verifying its applicability to the policy context, appraising quality by evaluating the validity of the method and conclusions, engaging in thorough collaborations with researchers, and undertaking formal research projects to inform the policy in question. Conclusions: We have generated an empirically-derived and context-sensitive method of measuring and scoring the extent to which policymakers engaged with research to inform policy development. The scoring system can be used by organisations to quantify staff research engagement actions and thus provide them with insights into what types of training, systems, and tools might improve their staff's research use capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Conjoint analysis
  • Evidence-based policy
  • Evidence-informed policy
  • Health policy
  • Knowledge translation
  • Measurement
  • Policymaker
  • Utilisation

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