Improving social policy and practice: knowledge matters
Author(s)/Editor(s): Bjørndal A, Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services/Institute of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo
Publisher/Organizer: The Lancet
Publication date: Volume 373, Issue 9678, Pages 1829 - 1831, 30 May 2009
“To know what is known and not known, world libraries of summarised evidence must be built and maintained.
The Cochrane and Campbell Collaborations are now established well-functioning production systems for high-quality systematic reviews. There is a need to concentrate on those two systems rather than building competing systems, smaller or larger. Any local knowledge broker, clearing house, or technology assessment office needs to ask themselves how they are, in addition to serving their own local context, contributing to this global build-up of knowledge.
The remarkable success of the Cochrane Collaboration can easily hide the fact that such organisations are vulnerable and in need of better support systems. We need more systematic reviewers, review quality needs to be improved, and updating needs to be addressed to ensure that reviews remain relevant for policy questions. Governments and other funders must support infrastructure, review groups, training, and dissemination. All of us need to participate in creating new and improved opportunities for direct dialogue between researchers, end users, and policy makers.
Knowledge matters. It informs decisions about individuals, services, and society if it is relevant, valid, synthesised, readable, delivered, and used wisely. We can develop a learning society based on a belief in the possibility of change, innovation, and an ethical obligation to investigate when the balance between good and harm is unknown. For this to happen we need to do pragmatic and valid research which aims to tackle important problems, to build up global libraries of systematic reviews of such attempts, to create user-friendly versions of guidance either on knowledge or knowledge gaps, and to engender support and engagement among researchers, policy makers, and practitioners. …”