How can we synthesize qualitative and quantitative evidence for healthcare policy-makers and managers?

Health Services Research, School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Southampton.
Healthcare management forum / Canadian College of Health Service Executives = Forum gestion des soins de santé / Collège canadien des directeurs de services de santé 02/2006; 19(1):27-31. DOI: 10.1016/S0840-4704(10)60079-8
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Interest in synthesizing the findings of qualitative and quantitative evidence is increasing in response to the complex questions being asked by healthcare managers and policy-makers. There is a wealth of evidence available from many sources--both formal research and non-research based (e.g., expert opinion, stakeholder, and user views). Synthesis offers the opportunity to integrate diverse forms of evidence into a whole. We categorize the current approaches to the synthesis of qualitative and quantitative evidence into four broad groups: narrative, qualitative, quantitative, and Bayesian. Many of the methods for synthesis are emergent; some have been used to integrate primary data; few have a long history of application to healthcare. In the healthcare context, synthesis methods are less well developed than methods such as systematic review. Nonetheless, synthesis has the potential to provide knowledge and decision support to healthcare policy-makers and managers.

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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this rapid knowledge synthesis was to provide relevant research evidence to inform the implementation of a new health service in Nova Scotia, Canada: Collaborative Emergency Centres (CECs). CECs propose to deliver both primary and urgent care to rural populations where traditional delivery is a challenge. This paper reports on the methods used in a rapid knowledge synthesis project to provide timely evidence to policy makers about this novel healthcare delivery model. We used a variety of methods, including a jurisdictional/scoping review, modified systematic review methodologies, and integrated knowledge translation. We scanned publicly available information about similar centres across our country to identify important components of CECs and CEC-type models to operationalize the definition of a CEC. We conducted literature searches in PubMed, CINAHL, and EMBASE, and in the grey literature, to identify evidence on the key structures and processes and effectiveness of CEC-type models of care delivery. Our searches were limited to published systematic reviews. The research team facilitated two integrated knowledge translation workshops during the project to engage stakeholders, to refine the research goals and objectives, and to share interim and final results. Citations and included articles were categorized by whether they addressed the CEC model or component structures and processes. Data and key messages were extracted from these reviews to inform implementation. CEC-type models have limited peer-reviewed evidence available; no peer-reviewed studies on CECs as a standalone healthcare model were found. As a result, our evidence search and synthesis was revised to focus on core CEC-type structures and processes, prioritized through consensus methods with the stakeholder group, and resulted in provision of a meaningful evidence synthesis to help inform the development and implementation of CECs in Nova Scotia. A variety of methods and partnership with decision-makers and stakeholders enabled the project to address the limitations in the evidence regarding CECs and meet the challenge of identifying the best available evidence in a transparent way to meet the needs of decision-makers in a short timeframe.
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction The provision of HIV treatment and care in sub-Saharan Africa faces multiple challenges, including weak health systems and attrition of trained health workers. One potential response to overcome these challenges has been to engage community health workers (CHWs). Methodology A systematic literature search for quantitative and qualitative studies describing the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care between inception and December 2012 in sub-Saharan Africa was performed in the following databases: PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, Web of Science, JSTOR, WHOLIS, Google Scholar and SAGE journals online. Bibliographies of included articles were also searched. A narrative synthesis approach was used to analyze common emerging themes on the role and outcomes of CHWs in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa. Results In total, 21 studies met the inclusion criteria, documenting a range of tasks performed by CHWs. These included patient support (counselling, home-based care, education, adherence support and livelihood support) and health service support (screening, referral and health service organization and surveillance). CHWs were reported to enhance the reach, uptake and quality of HIV services, as well as the dignity, quality of life and retention in care of people living with HIV. The presence of CHWs in clinics was reported to reduce waiting times, streamline patient flow and reduce the workload of health workers. Clinical outcomes appeared not to be compromised, with no differences in virologic failure and mortality comparing patients under community-based and those under facility-based care. Despite these benefits, CHWs faced challenges related to lack of recognition, remuneration and involvement in decision making. Conclusions CHWs can clearly contribute to HIV services delivery and strengthen human resource capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. For their contribution to be sustained, CHWs need to be recognized, remunerated and integrated in wider health systems. Further research focusing on comparative costs of CHW interventions and successful models for mainstreaming CHWs into wider health systems is needed.
    Journal of the International AIDS Society 09/2013; 16(1):18586. DOI:10.7448/IAS.16.1.18586 · 4.21 Impact Factor
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    01/2013; King's College London.