Comparing survey and network analyses to identify policy makers’ sources of information

K Oliver, Vocht F de, M. Everett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

IntroductionPublic policy makers are encouraged to use evidence when making decisions. Recent research suggests that policy makers prefer local data or non-research information to help them make decisions, and often use personal contacts to find information and advice. (Haynes 2011, Oliver 2012). However, little is known who or what are the main sources of information for public health policy makers. A survey of policy makers’ preferred sources of information included ‘experts’ and ‘other people’. This study compares the categorical results from that survey with a network analysis of the same sample.Methods A survey of public health policy makers across Greater Manchester was carried out (response rate 80%). All policy actors involved in public health policy (finding, analyzing or producing information, producing or implementing policy) in Greater Manchester were included in the sampling frame. An online questionnaire was used to collect data on policy makers’ sources of information. Network data were collected by asking respondents to nominate other individuals or organisations from which they received information. Respondents were also provided with a list of sources of information and asked which they used, in order to generate categorical data. FindingsThe most frequently chosen sources of information from the categorical data were NICE, government websites and Directors of Public Health. However, the network data showed that the most important individuals acting as sources of information in the network were actually mid-level managers in the NHS, who had no direct expertise in public health. Academics and researchers did not feature in the network. DiscussionBoth survey and network analyses provide useful insights into how policy makers access information. Network analysis offers practical and theoretical contributions to the EBP debate. Identifying individuals who act as key users and producers of evidence allows academics to target actors likely to use and disseminate their work. Statements:1. There is a large demand for evidence and information which is not being met by academics and researchers2. Network analysis identifies opinion leaders as targets for research
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
EventSecond Conference on Knowledge Exchange in Public Health Holland Fuse Conference: How to get practice into science? - Noorwijkhout, Netherlands
Duration: 22 Apr 201323 Apr 2013

Conference

ConferenceSecond Conference on Knowledge Exchange in Public Health Holland Fuse Conference: How to get practice into science?
CityNoorwijkhout, Netherlands
Period22/04/1323/04/13

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