Background: To gain insight into the use of systematic reviews by public health decision-makers in Ontario in policy decision-making and program planning.
Methods: A modified grounded theory, qualitative research design was used in this study. Public health managers and directors from two public health units in one region participated in face-to-face, semi-structured, audio taped interviews of one hour in length. Participants were asked to describe a recent decision in which they were involved related to the provision of public health services. They were then asked to describe the decision-making process, the types of information that were used in making the decision, if and how disseminated systematic reviews were included in the process, how influential the results of the systematic reviews were to the decision, and their preferences for the format and presentation of systematic reviews. Interviews were transcribed and data entered into N-VIVO software for coding, analysis and interpretation.
Results: There was a high response rate. Data are currently being coded, analyzed and interpreted.
Conclusions: The results of this qualitative study will be relevant for health services researchers, public health decision-makers and public health consultants with the Ministry of Health. It is expected that these results will inform the target audience about the process of evidence-based decision-making and where systematic reviews fit into this process. It will also facilitate knowledge towards the development of effective dissemination strategies and promote increased use of systematic reviews in policy and program planning decisions.