Finding and using evidence about local conditions

by Simon Lewin, Andrew D Oxman, John N Lavis, Atle Fretheim, Sebastian Garcia Marti, Susan Munabi-Babigumira | Dec 16, 2009

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Abstract

Evidence about local conditions is evidence that is available from the specific setting(s) in which a decision or action on a policy or programme option will be taken. Such evidence is always needed, together with other forms of evidence, in order to inform decisions about options. Global evidence is the best starting point for judgements about effects, factors that modify those effects, and insights into ways to approach and address problems. But local evidence is needed for most other judgements about what decisions and actions should be taken.

In this article, we suggest five questions that can help to identify and appraise the local evidence that is needed to inform a decision about policy or programme options. These are:

  1. What local evidence is needed to inform a decision about options?
  2. How can the necessary local evidence be found?
  3. How should the quality of the available local evidence be assessed?
  4. Are there important variations in the availability, quality or results of local evidence?
  5. How should local evidence be incorporated with other information?