Background: Healthcare policy and programmatic decisions are often made in the absence of relevant and useful information, despite the collective efforts of researchers across the globe. The evidence gap between research and action highlights the need to identify and disseminate research findings stakeholders involved in healthcare decision making. Evidence maps are an emerging evidence synthesis tool, employing rigorous and replicable techniques to potentially bridge this gap.
In 2016, Rhode Island (RI) Arts & Health Advisory group was charged with developing a set of evidence-based policy recommendations to integrate patient- and systems-level, arts-based interventions within a statewide population health plan. These recommendations, informed by an evidence map of existing studies, will be considered by the RI Departments of Health and Health and Human Services.
Objectives: Our year-long project included evidence synthesis methods training to create an arts interventions evidence map to elucidate the distribution of available evidence, engage key stakeholders to contextualise these findings and how they comport with the lived experience of healthcare providers and, patients in our state.
Methods: We convened a number of stakeholder engagement sessions and a one-day methods training workshop, culminating in a draft evidence-map protocol, evidence synthesis with analyses and dissemination of findings.
Results: The report will be submitted in the Summer 2017. Our interim findings demonstrate the Advisory Group learned to become good stewards of evidence and describe improved competency in self-advocacy using evidence to inform decision making. Further, the group combined their newly-acquired research skills and existing skill sets to develop new and creative ways to disseminate these research findings to the communities they serve.
Conclusions: The collaboration resulted in bi-directional learning between researchers and artists. Our experience demonstrated the utility of using evidence maps to guide actionable public health policy recommendations and the import of interprofessional collaboration to innovate evidence synthesis.