Do you speak politician? Lessons from PRIME

Do you speak politician? Lessons from PRIME

Author: Maggie Marx – University of Cape Town, South Africa

The Programme for Improving Mental Healthcare (PRIME) has had great success, but also many failures, in influencing healthcare policy in its five low- and middle-income study countries. Its evidence-based research has shown on many occasions that integrating mental healthcare into primary care is both effective and economical, yet many decision makers resist applying our findings.

As research uptake officer for this research consortium, I’ve been researching the best way to effectively communicate our research to policymakers, and am busy developing what we call a policy pack. Rather than just disseminating an 8-page policy brief, the policy pack offers the same information in a variety of mediums in order to cater to the great variety of decision makers within every government and organisation.

The Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence Programme (BCURE) recently stated that “policymakers in low- and middle-income countries often lack the capacity to effectively access, appraise and apply research when making decisions” and that “capacity is just one element of a tapestry of factors that block or disincentivise evidence-informed policymaking.”

PRIME has also found, through interviews with its government partners in its study countries, that time and capacity prevent high-level policymakers from successfully consuming our academically published research through equally jargon-heavy and lengthy policy briefs. By relooking our approach to the policy brief, often the only opportunity to drive a specific message home, and making its contents more accessible, we hope to increase the uptake of valuable research into policy and practice.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication