The growing recognition of the importance of concisely communicating
research evidence and other policy-relevant information to policymakers
has underpinned the development of several information-packaging efforts
over the past decade. This has led to a wide variability in the types of
documents produced, which is at best confusing and at worst discouraging
for those they intend to reach. This paper has two main objectives: to
develop a better understanding of the range of documents and document
names used by the organizations preparing them; and to assess whether
there are any consistencies in the characteristics of sampled documents
across the names employed to label (in the title) or describe (in the
document or website) them.
We undertook a documentary analysis of web-published document series
that are prepared by a variety of organizations with the primary
intention of providing information to health systems policymakers and
stakeholders, and addressing questions related to health policy and
health systems with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. No time
limit was set.
In total, 109 individual documents from 24 series produced by 16
different organizations were included. The name ‘policy brief/briefing’
was the most frequently used (39%) to label or describe a document, and
was used in all eight broad content areas that we identified, even
though they did not have obviously common traits among them. In terms of
document characteristics, most documents (90%) used skimmable formats
that are easy to read, with understandable, jargon-free, language (80%).
Availability of information on the methods (47%) or the quality of the
presented evidence (27%) was less common. One-third (32%) chose the
topic based on an explicit process to assess the demand for information
from policy makers and even fewer (19%) engaged with policymakers to
discuss the content of these documents such as through merit review.
This study highlights the need for organizations embarking on future
information-packaging efforts to be more thoughtful when deciding how to
name these documents and the need for greater transparency in describing
their content, purpose and intended audience.
Adam, T.; Moat, K.A.; Ghaffar, A.; Lavis, J.N. Towards a better understanding of the nomenclature used in information-packaging efforts to support evidence-informed policymaking in low- and middle-income countries. Implementation Science (2014) 9 (1) 67. [DOI: 10.1186/1748-5908-9-67]