Health and Care Research Wales Evidence Centre: Mapping policy evidence-needs to support evidence-based decision-making
2Science Evidence Advice Division, Welsh Government, UK
3Knowledge Analytical Service, Welsh Government, UK
4Public Contributor, Wales COVID-19 Evidence Centre, UK
5North Wales Centre for Primary Care Research, Bangor University, UK
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a need for timely, high-quality evidence outputs to inform health and social care decision-making. At the Wales COVID-19 Evidence Centre (2021-2023) we developed an inclusive approach to include stakeholder involvement, including public contributors, across all stages of our research processes (research question prioritisation; rapid evidence synthesis; rapid primary research; knowledge mobilisation) to support evidence-based decision-making. This enabled 19 reports to be referenced in Welsh Government COVID-19 relevant papers including infection control, education policy and tackling gender inequalities.
Objectives: As we transition to the Health and Care Research Wales Evidence Centre (March 2023), we describe our refined collaborative approach to ensure our work addresses the most important policy needs to achieve impact.
Methods: We are conducting a policy mapping exercise in collaboration with the Welsh Government ‘Science Evidence Advice’ and ‘Knowledge Analytical Service’ teams, involving a 45-minute online discussion with policy leads. We explore policy drivers, evidence needs, the type of evidence required (evidence synthesis or primary research) and timeframes. Potential research questions are then considered for adoption onto our work programme. They require a clear pathway to impact, equity and cost considerations and are themed with ‘A Healthier Wales policy’. Prioritisation includes discussions with the Welsh Government evidence teams; our coapplicant team with domain and methods expertise, including public contributors; and our expert steering committee, to avoid duplication with external research groups. This will be followed by a similar evidence-mapping exercise with Welsh NHS and Social Care leads.
Results: We have completed 25/30 meetings; 92 potential research questions have been identified and will undergo prioritisation as above. Most target the long-term policy aims of improved population health and wellbeing, better quality and accessible services, and higher value health and social care, with fewer questions focused on the health and social care workforce.
Conclusions: Our mapping exercise prioritises the needs of evidence users and ensures that evidence addresses priority questions that are important to them. Partnership with Welsh Government evidence providers and public contributors reduces unnecessary duplication and ensures maximum impact. Public involvement: Throughout our processes to ensure the evidence is relevant and important to patients.