Research-policy engagement activities and research impact: nursing and health science researcher perspectives

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Abstract

Background:
Strategies to help researchers use the research evidence they (co)produce to inform policy should be tailored to the context. Yet there is little guidance on research-policy engagement activities in nursing and health sciences disciplines.

Aims and objectives:
We explored the experiences and perspectives of nursing and health sciences researchers at different career stages, regarding research-policy engagement activities and their impacts on policy. We also explored researchers’ understanding of terminology and theory regarding research-policy engagement.

Methods:
We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 17 researchers, at various career stages, and conducted content and thematic analysis of the data.

Findings:
‘Disseminating and communicating research’, and ‘building professional partnerships’ were the most common types of activity, with senior researchers favouring the latter. Early and mid-career researchers favoured the former, citing the need to build credibility and track record before engaging with policy actors. We identified individual and contextual factors that influence policy impact and researchers’ capacity to engage in such activities. Researchers’ conceptions and understanding regarding evidence-informed policymaking theory and process varied. Terminology also varied, with ‘knowledge translation’ the most common term.

Discussion and conclusions:
Despite evidence indicating the limited effectiveness of dissemination activities on policy, researchers pursue such efforts, to enable the formation of relationships with influential policy actors and policy impact in the longer term, and because of academia’s drive for research outputs. Researchers would benefit from supportive organisational contexts and greater knowledge of research-policy engagement theory, evidence and practice, through tailored workshops addressing relational and political considerations, as well as structured mentoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-377
Number of pages18
JournalEvidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice
Volume19
Issue number3
Early online date11 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • research-policy engagement activity
  • evidence-informed policy
  • knowledge translation
  • implementation science

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