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Open Access Research article

Participants’ perceptions of a knowledge-brokering strategy to facilitate evidence-informed policy-making in Fiji

Gade Waqa1*, Helen Mavoa2, Wendy Snowdon12, Marj Moodie23, Rigieta Nadakuitavuki4, Marita Mc Cabe5 and Boyd Swinburn26

Author Affiliations

1 Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases (C-POND), Fiji School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Fiji National University, Suva, Fiji

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

3 Deakin Health Economics, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

4 Ministry of Health, Suva, Fiji

5 School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

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

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:725  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-725

Published: 7 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Evidence-informed policy-making (EIPM) is optimal when evidence-producers (researchers) and policy developers work collaboratively to ensure the production and use of the best available evidence. This paper examined participants’ perceptions of knowledge-brokering strategies used in the TROPIC (Translational Research in Obesity Prevention in Communities) project to facilitate the use of obesity-related evidence in policy development in Fiji.

Method

Knowledge-brokers delivered a 12-18 month programme comprising workshops targeting EIPM skills and practical support for developing evidence-informed policy briefs to reduce obesity. The programme was tailored to each of the six participating organizations. Knowledge-brokering strategies included negotiating topics that were aligned to the goals of individual organizations, monitoring and evaluating time-management skills, accommodating other organizational and individual priorities, delivering practical sessions on use of appropriate research tools and supporting individual writing of policy briefs. Two qualitative methods were used to examine individuals’ perceptions of skills obtained, opportunities afforded by the TROPIC project, facilitators and inhibiters to planned policy brief development and suggestions for improved programme delivery. Forty-nine participants completed an electronic word table and then participated in a semi-structured interview. An independent interviewer conducted structured interviews with a high-ranking officer in each organization to examine their perceptions of TROPIC engagement strategies. Data were analyzed descriptively and thematically, with the first author and another experienced qualitative researcher analyzing data sets separately, and then combining analyses.

Results

Many participants believed that they had increased their skills in acquiring, assessing, adapting and applying evidence, writing policy briefs and presenting evidence-based arguments to higher levels. Many participants preferred one-to-one meetings to group activities to ensure early resolution of developing issues and to refine policy briefs. Perceived barriers to EIPM were lack of knowledge about data sources, inadequate time to develop evidence-informed briefs, and insufficient resources for accessing and managing evidence.

Conclusion

An innovative knowledge-brokering approach utilizing skill development and mentorship facilitated individual EIPM skills and policy brief development. The TROPIC model could stimulate evidence-based policy action relating to obesity prevention and other policy areas in other Pacific countries and elsewhere.

Keywords:
Knowledge-brokering strategies; Knowledge exchange; Evidence-informed policy-making; Perceived barriers