1WHO Regional Office for Africa, Brazzaville, Congo
2Regional East African Community Health (REACH) Policy Initiative, Kampala, Uganda
3College of Health Sciences, Makerere University Medical School, Kampala, Uganda
Background Although there is a general agreement on the benefits of evidence informed health policy development given resource constraints especially in Low-Income Countries (LICs), the definition of what evidence is, and what evidence is suitable to guide decision-making is still unclear. Our study is contributing to filling this knowledge gap. We aimed to explore health policy actors’ views regarding what evidence they deemed appropriate to guide health policy development.
Methods Using exploratory qualitative methods, we conducted interviews with 51 key informants using an indepth interview guide. We interviewed a diverse group of stakeholders in health policy development and knowledge translation in the Uganda health sector. Data were analyzed using inductive content analysis techniques.
Results Different stakeholders lay emphasis on different kinds of evidence. While donors preferred international evidence and Ministry of Health (MoH) officials looked to local evidence, district health managers preferred local evidence, evidence from routine monitoring and evaluation, and reports from service providers. Service providers on the other hand preferred local evidence and routine monitoring and evaluation reports whilst researchers preferred systematic reviews and clinical trials. Stakeholders preferred evidence covering several aspects impacting on decision-making highlighting the fact that although policy actors look for factual information, they also require evidence on context and implementation feasibility of a policy decision.
Conclusion What LICslike Uganda categorize as evidence suitable for informing policy encompasses several types with no consensus on what is deemed as most appropriate. Evidence must be of high quality, applicable, acceptable to the users, and informing different aspects of decision-making.
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