Informing Healthy Public Policy

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Our Informing Healthy Public Policy programme examines how policies and interventions are debated and influenced, how evidence is best synthesised and presented for use in the policy process, and what approaches work best for generating high quality, relevant and timely evidence, all of which are vital to improving public health.

Decision-makers and the public are exposed to a wide range of research evidence, often conflicting or uncertain. The framing and reporting of this evidence influences how people understand and act on it. Key to understanding these processes is a better appreciation of the role of different actors in public health debate and policy-making, how and where they interact, and what other factors contribute to the successful translation of evidence into healthy public policies.

An important constraint on policy-making is the evidence available. Even large-scale evaluations and comprehensive reviews of public health interventions produce evidence that is inconclusive or hard to apply in practice. The common features of influential reviews need to be identified and codified in guidance. Likewise, the elements of a more fit for purpose approach to evaluation are often applied, but rarely combined into a coherent package.

Our aim is to combine high quality public health science with deep understanding of the policy process, in order to improve the translation of evidence into effective policies and interventions.

We combine these areas into three overlapping workstreams: Understanding Emerging Health Policy and Debate, Improving the Quality and Utility of Evidence Synthesis and Evaluating Healthy Public Policies.

Since 2015 the Informing Health Public Policy programme has led Unit responses to 23 public evidence consultations.