Roundtable: Making Research Responsive to Policymakers' Needs: A Roundtable Discussion about Systematic Reviews and Other Approaches to Evidence Synthesis
(Methods and Tools of Analysis)

Saturday, November 10, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Wilson C - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Moderators:  Michael E Gluck, AcademyHealth
Speakers:  Naomi Goldstein, Administration for Children and Families, Arlene Bierman, U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Mike Wilson, McMaster University and Howard White, Campbell Collaboration

Systematic reviews have become an important research translation tool for the policymaking process, fueled in part by efforts like the Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations. However, concern that strictly adhering to the methods that assure the rigor and credibility of systematic reviews limits their timeliness, efficiency, and responsiveness to users’ needs have led knowledge brokers to explore new approaches to conducting evidence reviews for policymakers.  In 2015, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked AcademyHealth to develop and test a process for responding quickly to requests for evidence syntheses from policymakers whose work contribute to building a Culture of Health. An environmental scan both inside and outside the United States revealed a wide array of efforts that collectively highlight the challenges and potential solutions to bringing credible evidence to policymakers in a useful format and timeframe. This roundtable will bring together experts involved in conducting evidence reviews and policymakers who use them to explore the challenges posed by such efforts and potential solutions.  Panelists will also span health and social welfare policy and include experts from outside the U.S.

A panelist from the World Health Organization (WHO) will discuss efforts to establish research synthesis capacity in lower and middle-middle income countries to inform policy.  The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the federal Administration on Children and Families (Naomi Goldstein, PhD, MPP) will provide her perspective as a consumer of systematic reviews and other types of synthesis. The Deputy Administrator at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will draw on her agency’s efforts to develop new methods to make systematic reviews useful to both policymakers and individuals who lead health care delivery organizations, including through the use of machine learning and other tools that automate parts of the process. The Director of the McMaster University Health Forum’s Rapid Response program will discuss how his group provides quick turnaround research syntheses on health and social welfare topics to policymakers in the province of Ontario.  Dr. Goldstein has confirmed her participation (subject to agency approval).  I have invited each of the other three panelists speakers and am awaiting confirmation that they can participate as of the abstract submission deadline.  If any are not able to participation, I have identified one or two back-ups for each panelist who would provide similar perspectives. For example, a DC-based expert from the Pan American Health Organization would be the alternate for our Geneva-based panelist from WHO. Most of the alternates are located in the DC area, increasing the likelihood they could participate if necessary.

The moderator will lead a discussion that focuses on (1) the role of research and research synthesis in informing policy; (2) challenges for policymakers seeking to understand bodies of research evidence; (3) the reasons for potential disconnects between policymaker needs and academic approaches to research synthesis; (4) practical tools for and examples of balancing methodological rigor with timeliness and responsiveness.

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