Organising and using policy dialogues to support evidence-informed policymaking

by John N Lavis, Jennifer A Boyko, Andrew D Oxman, Simon Lewin, Atle Fretheim | Dec 16, 2009

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Abstract

Policy dialogues allow research evidence to be considered together with the views, experiences and tacit knowledge of those who will be involved in, or affected by, future decisions about a high-priority issue.

Increasing interest in the use of policy dialogues has been fuelled by a number of factors:

  1. The recognition of the need for locally contextualised 'decision support' for policymakers and other stakeholders
  2. The recognition that research evidence is only one input into the decision-making processes of policymakers and other stakeholders
  3. The recognition that many stakeholders can add significant value to these processes, and
  4. The recognition that many stakeholders can take action to address high-priority issues, and not just policymakers.

In this article, we suggest questions to guide those organising and using policy dialogues to support evidence-informed policymaking. These are:

  1. Does the dialogue address a high-priority issue?
  2. Does the dialogue provide opportunities to discuss the problem, options to address the problem, and key implementation considerations?
  3. Is the dialogue informed by a pre-circulated policy brief and by a discussion about the full range of factors that can influence the policymaking process?
  4. Does the dialogue ensure fair representation among those who will be involved in, or affected by, future decisions related to the issue?
  5. Does the dialogue engage a facilitator, follow a rule about not attributing comments to individuals, and not aim for consensus?
  6. Are outputs produced and follow-up activities undertaken to support action?