The task

To design and prepare a strategy paper for how you would attempt to get a research-based issue onto the policy agenda of the national Ministry of Health or similar regional or local policy making body (e.g. in your Province, county or city).

The paper is notan implementation plan designed to put themeasures into place afterit has been accepted as government policy. Instead,you must design a knowledge transfer and policy-influencing strategy which aims to get the policy issue taken up by governmentand placed on its policy ‘agenda’. Political scientists call this ‘agenda setting’.

The scenario

You are a health services researcher outside the governmentsectortrying to get a particular issue onto the public policy agenda (i.e. acted onby policy makers). You believethat the current policy and/or practicesareinadequate and the relevant research evidencesuggests it should be changed.

You should set out how you think the issue can best be presented, promoted and ‘transferred’ from the world of research to the world of policy and practice so that it grabs the attention of policy makers in government.For example, you may decide tonetwork withother researchers and organisations in this area to drive the agenda forwards.

Think which evidence you will draw on and how you will present this. Ensure that the evidence is presented succinctly and in a way which supports the political strategy you are outlining.

The issue

You are free to choose any issue relevant to health services policy. It would make sense to choose a topic relevant to your own health interests. For example, you might choose an issue you have worked on before or one related to the proposed topic of yourMasters thesis.

Things to consider

What is the health problem and which government agency is responsible for this? Who are the key policy makers?

What are the key findings and related messages from the latest, best research on the chosen issue/problem?

What is the problem with the current policy? What needs to change in light of this research?

How will you have to present or ‘package’ the research finders to gain their attention (e.g. highlighting of memorable facts that can be extracted from the research evidence.

Who are the main actors and institutions you need to influence to get the issue onto the policy agenda? Who the audiences and likely ‘users’ of the research messages? Who might be supportive and which resistant and how might opposition be reduced?

Techniques will be used to get the main messages from the research to the principal individuals and institutions that have to be influenced?

Are there other issues that this issue can be linked to? Are there different ways of ‘framing’ the issue? Are there forthcoming events that can be used to draw attention to the issue? Can formal and informal relationships be built with key individuals and organisations?

What are the main barriers that will have to be overcome in getting your evidence heard and/ or the policy changed?

What resources (e.g. skills, time, access)do you need to get the issue to be heard and/or taken up by policy makers?

Presenting your report

You have up to 5 minutes to present your strategy to the group.

You can present the strategy in a variety of ways. Flow charts and diagrams may convey some aspects of your argument very effectively.