Informing Healthy Public Policy

Informing Healthy Public Policy

Understanding 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, timely evidence, are vital to improving public health.

This programme combines these areas into three overlapping themes focused on understanding emerging health debates, understanding policy and using evidence, and evaluating health and social policies. Our aim is to combine high quality public health science with deep understanding of the policy process, to improve the translation of evidence into effective policies and interventions.


Decision-makers and the public are exposed to a vast array 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.


  • to study how health issues, risks and evidence are understood and presented in public health and policy debates, by asking questions such as ‘how can we better examine emerging public health debates by combining research on actors, processes and contexts?’
  • to improve the translation of public health evidence, by asking questions such as ‘how can we improve the synthesis of the complex, heterogeneous evidence typical of population health intervention research?’
  • to identify and apply robust approaches to evaluating policies by asking questions such as ‘what methods work best in the evaluation of complex policy interventions’ and ‘are there novel approaches to evaluation in other disciplines that can be applied to public health evaluations?

Programme Staff

Programme Leaders

Programme Students

  • Michele Hilton Boon
  • Susan Martin
  • Lauren White



MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit