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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? At 6th International Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services. 18 - 20 Sep 2005.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


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

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Published date: 2005
Venue - Dates: 6th International Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services, 2005-09-18 - 2005-09-20


Local EPrints ID: 44299
PURE UUID: dfcbbd3b-5a7e-4491-a411-15c89788b20b
ORCID for Catherine Pope: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 22 Feb 2007
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:15

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Author: Catherine Pope ORCID iD
Author: Nicholas Mays
Author: Jennie Popay

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