Assessing evidence: needs, reviews, decisions

“Each article in this series presents a proposed tool that can be used by those involved in finding and using research evidence to support evidence informed health policymaking. The series addresses four broad areas: 1. Supporting evidence informed policymaking; 2. Identifying needs for research evidence in relation to three steps in policymaking processes, namely problem clarification, options framing, and implementation planning; 3. Finding and assessing both systematic reviews and other types of evidence to inform these steps; and, 4. Going from research evidence to decisions”. The tools have been developed by the SUPporting POlicy relevant Reviews and Trials (SUPPORT) project. The information is presented as a set of links to articles (published in 2009 in the on-line journal Health Research Policy and Systems) on the following topics:


1. What is evidence-informed policymaking?
2. Improving how your organisation supports the use of research evidence to inform policymaking
3. Setting priorities for supporting evidence-informed policymaking
4. Using research evidence to clarify a problem
5. Using research evidence to frame options to address a problem
6. Using research evidence to address how an option will be implemented
7. Finding systematic reviews
8. Deciding how much confidence to place in a systematic review
9. Assessing the applicability of the findings of a systematic review
10. Taking equity into consideration when assessing the findings of a systematic review
11. Finding and using research evidence about local conditions
12. Finding and using research evidence about resource use and costs
13. Preparing and using policy briefs to support evidence-informed policymaking
14. Organising and using policy dialogues to support evidence-informed policymaking
15. Engaging the public in evidence-informed policymaking
16. Using research evidence in balancing the pros and cons of policies
17. Dealing with insufficient research evidence
18. Planning monitoring and evaluation of policies


This resource is accessed through a website on Health Systems Evidence, which provides an “easy-to-search and continuously updated online repository of synthesized research evidence related to … implementation strategies that can support change”. There is also a tool for finding and using research evidence. (The website also provides a repository of synthesized research evidence related to governance, financial and delivery arrangements in health systems.) Access to the database requires registration (which is free).

References and websites:

SUPPORT tools for evidence-informed health policymaking. Online document at:

General access to resources:

Health Systems Evidence (an online repository of research evidence and implementation). Website at: McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.

Posted: December 2011
Last modified: August 2017