Latest HEN report provides support for the use of health information for policy-making

Video – Evidence-informed policy

A new Health Evidence Network (HEN) report describes the tools and mechanisms to enhance the use of evidence for policy-making. The significance of the report is 2-fold: it contributes to the literature on the use of health information for decision-making, which is still scarce; and it addresses the fact that while high-quality research, evidence and health information are key to good decision-making, their availability does not inherently lead to increased use by health policy-makers.

The Evidence-informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) Europe commissioned the report, entitled “Evidence on mechanisms and tools for use of health information for decision-making”. EVIPNet Europe is a capacity-building initiative supporting Member States to develop evidence-informed policies.

The report summarizes the existing mechanisms and tools that allow effective uptake of health information by public health and health system decision-makers. It provides:

  • packaging tools, such as policy briefs;
  • application tools, such as modelling and simulation;
  • dissemination tools, such as newsletters and products for communicating data; and
  • linkage and exchange tools, such as knowledge translation platforms.

The report also describes a number of practical examples of using knowledge translation tools and mechanisms in resource-scarce settings.

The proposed policy options are tailored to 3 key stakeholder groups: health information producers, knowledge brokers and health information users (such as policy-makers). It will support these groups in EVIPNet Europe member countries and beyond to increase the use of health information in policy development.

Integration of health information into policy-making

Health information is a subset of evidence that encompasses data and indicators related to socioeconomic determinants of health; health status/mortality of individuals and populations; risk factors; service coverage; and health system inputs, outputs and outcomes. It is collected, processed, stored, reported and used with the aim of influencing policy- and decision-making, programme action and efficient resource allocation, ultimately for improving health outcomes.

Recognizing the importance of the use of health information in policy-making, European Member States adopted the Action plan to strengthen the use of evidence, information and research for policy-making in the WHO European Region in 2016.

In support of the Action plan, EVIPNet Europe and the HEN Secretariat, both located in the Division of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation of WHO/Europe, have been making strides to improve evidence-informed policy-making. This report is one of many of the activities undertaken by these networks.