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What makes evidence-based policymaking such a useful myth?: The case of NICE guidance on bariatric surgery in the UK

What makes evidence-based policymaking such a useful myth?: The case of NICE guidance on bariatric surgery in the UK
What makes evidence-based policymaking such a useful myth?: The case of NICE guidance on bariatric surgery in the UK
There is widespread scepticism among policy scholars and practitioners about the move to rationalise policy making: the naive vision of ‘evidence-based policy’ is often contrasted with the reality of ‘policy-based evidence’. Yet the language of evidence-based policy making (EBPM) continues to dominate policy debate about complex and contested issues. In this paper, I explore this apparent paradox by looking at what makes EBPM such a useful myth for all sorts of policy actors. I do so with reference to the pioneering work of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), focusing specifically on its work in relation to bariatric surgery, a suite of controversial and drastic weight loss procedures. I show that the myth of EBPM has political, pragmatic and procedural utility in practice, allowing the organisation to set and administer guidelines on this uncertain, complex and contested treatment in ways which sustain buy-in and enable ongoing contestation.
Evidence-based policy making; rationality; policy practice; obesity; NICE
0952-1895
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c
Boswell, John
34bad0df-3d4d-40ce-948f-65871e3d783c

Boswell, John (2017) What makes evidence-based policymaking such a useful myth?: The case of NICE guidance on bariatric surgery in the UK Governance

Record type: Article

Abstract

There is widespread scepticism among policy scholars and practitioners about the move to rationalise policy making: the naive vision of ‘evidence-based policy’ is often contrasted with the reality of ‘policy-based evidence’. Yet the language of evidence-based policy making (EBPM) continues to dominate policy debate about complex and contested issues. In this paper, I explore this apparent paradox by looking at what makes EBPM such a useful myth for all sorts of policy actors. I do so with reference to the pioneering work of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), focusing specifically on its work in relation to bariatric surgery, a suite of controversial and drastic weight loss procedures. I show that the myth of EBPM has political, pragmatic and procedural utility in practice, allowing the organisation to set and administer guidelines on this uncertain, complex and contested treatment in ways which sustain buy-in and enable ongoing contestation.

Other EBPMpaper_Revised - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 18 February 2017
Keywords: Evidence-based policy making; rationality; policy practice; obesity; NICE
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 406450
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/406450
ISSN: 0952-1895
PURE UUID: b2588d86-c498-4003-9b09-8865414409fe

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Date deposited: 10 Mar 2017 10:47
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 04:05

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Contributors

Author: John Boswell

University divisions

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