Weak health systems hinder the implementation of effective interventions; policies to strengthen such systems need to draw on the best available evidence.
Health systems evidence is best delivered in the form of guidance embedded in policy formulation processes, but health systems guidance is poorly developed at present.
The translation of research on problems, interventions, and implementation into decisions and policies that affect how systems are organised is one challenge facing the development of health systems guidance.
The development of guidance that is timely and usable by the broad range of health systems stakeholders, and of methods to appraise the quality of health systems guidance, are additional challenges. Further research is needed to adapt existing approaches (e.g., those used in clinical guidelines) to produce meaningful advice that accounts for the complexity of health systems, political systems, and contexts.
This is the first paper in a three-part series in PLoS Medicine on health systems guidance.
Bosch-Capblanch, X.; Lavis, J. N.; Lewin, S.; Atun, R.; Røttingen, J. A.; Dröschel, D.; Beck, L.; Abalos, E.; El-Jardali, F.; Gislon, L.; Oliver, S.; Wyss, K.; Tugwell, P.; Kulier, R.; Pang, T.; Haines, A. Guidance for Evidence-Informed Policies about Health Systems: Rationale for and Challenges of Guidance Development. PLoS Medicine (2012) 9 (3) e1001185. [DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001185]
Guidance for evidence-informed policies about health systems: rationale for and challenges of guidance development