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Open Access Study protocol

Knowledge exchange in the Pacific: The TROPIC (Translational Research into Obesity Prevention Policies for Communities) project

Helen Mavoa17*, Gade Waqa2, Marj Moodie3, Peter Kremer4, Marita McCabe5, Wendy Snowdon12 and Boyd Swinburn16

Author Affiliations

1 WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

2 Fiji School of Medicine, College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Fiji National University, Suva, Fiji

3 Deakin Health Economics, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

4 McCaughey Centre, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

5 School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

6 School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

7 WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Melbourne, Vic, 3000, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:552  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-552

Published: 25 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Policies targeting obesogenic environments and behaviours are critical to counter rising obesity rates and lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Policies are likely to be most effective and enduring when they are based on the best available evidence. Evidence-informed policy making is especially challenging in countries with limited resources. The Pacific TROPIC (Translational Research for Obesity Prevention in Communities) project aims to implement and evaluate a tailored knowledge-brokering approach to evidence-informed policy making to address obesity in Fiji, a Pacific nation challenged by increasingly high rates of obesity and concomitant NCDs.

Methods

The TROPIC project draws on the concept of ‘knowledge exchange’ between policy developers (individuals; organisations) and researchers to deliver a knowledge broking programme that maps policy environments, conducts workshops on evidence-informed policy making, supports the development of evidence-informed policy briefs, and embeds evidence-informed policy making into organisational culture. Recruitment of government and nongovernment organisational representatives will be based on potential to: develop policies relevant to obesity, reach broad audiences, and commit to resourcing staff and building a culture that supports evidence-informed policy development. Workshops will increase awareness of both obesity and policy cycles, as well as develop participants’ skills in accessing, assessing and applying relevant evidence to policy briefs. The knowledge-broking team will then support participants to: 1) develop evidence-informed policy briefs that are both commensurate with national and organisational plans and also informed by evidence from the Pacific Obesity Prevention in Communities project and elsewhere; and 2) collaborate with participating organisations to embed evidence-informed policy making structures and processes. This knowledge broking initiative will be evaluated via data from semi-structured interviews, a validated self-assessment tool, process diaries and outputs.

Discussion

Public health interventions have rarely targeted evidence-informed policy making structures and processes to reduce obesity and NCDs. This study will empirically advance understanding of knowledge broking processes to extend evidence-informed policy making skills and develop a suite of national obesity-related policies that can potentially improve population health outcomes.

Keywords:
Policy; Obesity; Knowledge exchange; Knowledge broker; Pacific