How can we synthesise qualitative and quantitative evidence for policy makers and managers?

Pope, Catherine, Mays, Nicholas and Popay, Jennie (2005) How can we synthesise qualitative and quantitative evidence for policy makers and managers? In, 6th International Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services, Montreal, Canada, 18 - 20 Sep 2005.


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Objectives: To describe how different types of evidence
- qualitative, quantitative and non-research based - can
be integrated/synthesised to inform policy decision

Study design: Review and critical commentary on
methods for synthesis used in health and social science
research, undertaken in 2004.

Principle findings: We identify four basic approaches to
reviewing and synthesising evidence that have potential
to inform policy decision making.: narrative (including
traditional ‘literature reviews’ and more
methodologically explicit approaches such as narrative
synthesis, thematic analysis, ‘realist synthesis’ and
‘meta-narrative mapping’), qualitative (which convert
all available evidence into qualitative form using
techniques such as ‘meta-ethnography’ and ‘qualitative
cross-case analysis’),quantitative (which convert all
evidence into quantitative form using techniques such
as ‘quantitative case survey’ or ‘content analysis’) and
Bayesian meta-analysis and decision analysis (which
can convert qualitative evidence such as preferences
about different outcomes into quantitative form or
‘weights’ to use in quantitative synthesis).

Conclusion: There is no single, agreed framework for
synthesising diverse forms of evidence. Many of the
methods that show potential for this have been devised
for reviews which include either qualitative or
quantitative evidence rather than those that attempt to
integrate/synthesis both types of evidence. Methods for
synthesis are evolving – some are less well developed
than others. Nonetheless we must learn to synthesise
diverse forms of evidence if we are to better meet the
needs of policy makers.

Implications: Policy makers have always used a wide
range of sources of evidence in making decisions about
policy and service organisation but are under pressure
to adopt a more systematic approach to the utilisation
of this complex evidence base. Synthesis is an
attractive solution. The choice of approach is
contingent on the policy questions and the nature of
the evidence. More policy-research dialogue is required
to develop synthesis methods.

Primary funding: Canadian HSR Foundation & NHS R&D

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URLs:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > Superseded (SONM) > Superseded (HSR)
ePrint ID: 44299
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:18

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