Knowledge mobilisation of rapid reviews to inform health and care policy and practice: lessons from the Wales COVID-19 Evidence Centre
2Health and Care Research Wales Evidence Centre, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
3Health and Care Research Wales Evidence Centre, and the Wales Centre of Primary and Emergency Care Research. Bangor Institute for Health & Medical Research, Bangor University, United Kingdom
4Public Partnership Group, Health and Care Research Wales Evidence Centre, Health and Care Research Wales, United Kingdom
5Ser Cymru, Welsh Government, United Kingdom
Policy and practice decisions must be evidence-based, but ensuring that research evidence is readily available and used by decision-makers is challenging. This was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when knowledge mobilisation strategies to bridge the gap between evidence synthesis and informing decisions were critical. The Wales COVID-19 Evidence Centre (WCEC) was set up to ensure that health and social care policy and practice decision-makers had timely access to relevant COVID-19 research evidence.
Objectives: To describe WCEC knowledge mobilisation methods for rapid evidence reviews, reflect on the impact, and share learning.
Methods: Knowledge mobilisation methods were flexible to meet decision-makers’ (our stakeholders’) needs. We collaborated with stakeholders throughout to ensure we addressed their requirements and identified policy and practice implications, evidence impact and develop knowledge mobilisation plans. We identified barriers and facilitators to improving our methods over time and ensure all outputs are widely accessible.
Results: Coproduction with stakeholders (priority-setting, review conduct, planning pathway-to-impact and knowledge mobilisation) built trust in our methods and evidence reliability. Reviews informed Welsh health and care decision-making during the pandemic and recovery periods, addressing current health and care pressures. From April 2021 to December 2022, 20 of our reviews informed Welsh Government guidance, moving to COVID alert level 0, schools reopening, a Public Health Wales campaign to raise vaccine uptake, and led to Welsh Government commissioning of carbon dioxide monitors in schools. A review of strategies to support learning and wellbeing among 16- to 19-year-old learners was a key piece of evidence included in the Welsh Government’s ‘Renew and Reform: Post-16 and Transitions Plan’, and reviews on inequalities that were exacerbated during the pandemic (LGBTQ+, women and girls, people living with disabilities) informed a Welsh Government action plan. Recently, a review of the effectiveness of diagnostics centres is guiding the design and implementation of new community diagnostic centres in Wales (January 2023).
Conclusions: Coproduction throughout supported knowledge mobilisation and led to the use of rapid reviews by scientific advisors and policy and practice decision-makers. Patient, public, and/or healthcare consumer involvement: The WCEC had a public partnership group of 8 members who contributed to all our processes.