Lessons learned from descriptions and evaluations of knowledge-translation platforms supporting evidence-informed policymaking in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review

Partridge A1, Mansilla C2, Randhawa H3, Sewankambo N4, El-Jardali F5, Lavis J6
1Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 2Ministry of Health , 3Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, 44 Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, 5Department of Health Management and Policy, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Knowledge to Policy Center, American University of Beirut, 6Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster Health Forum, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, and Department of Political Science, McMaster University

Background:

Knowledge-translation platforms (KTPs) are organizations, initiatives and networks that focus on supporting evidence-informed health policy-making (EIHP). Many descriptions and evaluations of KTPs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have been produced, but to date they have not been systematically reviewed.

Objectives:

To systematically review the literature that describes and evaluates KTPs in LMICs.

Methods:

We searched five databases as well as grey literature. We used four criteria to select eligible empirical studies. We extracted data for seven characteristics of the included studies and key findings, and we used explicit criteria to assess quality. To synthesize the findings, we gave greater attention to themes emerging from multiple studies, higher-quality studies and different contexts.

Results:

Our key findings include the following:

- country was the most common jurisdictional focus of the KTP and EVIPNet the most common name used by them;

- descriptions were more common than formative evaluations or summative evaluations (or studies of other linkages among variables);

- evidence briefs and deliberative dialogues were the activities/outputs that have been the most widely undertaken, with rapid evidence services and capacity-building workshops the next most common;

- evidence briefs and deliberative dialogues were also the activities/outputs that have been the most extensively subjected to formative evaluation and the most widely viewed as helpful both in general and in terms of the specific design features commonly used by EVIPNet, while rapid evidence services are the next most extensively studied but only in a single jurisdiction (Uganda);

- the only two studies examining linkages among other variables found that political support (context) and networks/multi-institutional arrangements (infrastructure) can influence the demand for and supply of activities and outputs.

Conclusions:

We have a large and growing volume of research evidence suggesting that KTP offer promise in supporting evidence-informed health policy-making in LMICs.

Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:

Consumers were involved in many of the KTPs being studied and in the development of the evaluation protocols of those KTPs affiliated with EVIPNet. Consumers are also involved in the KTPs where two of the authors are based.