Visit the main HIFA website:

Evidence-informed country-level policymaking (107) Persuasion versus empowerment of policymakers

HIFA Quotation:

'There is no point in taking the time to make evidence-based solutions easier to understand if policymakers are no longer interested. Successful advocates recognise the value of emotional appeals and simple stories to draw attention to a problem...'

I would like to suggest the opposite: 'It is vital to take the time to make evidence-based solutions easier to understand, because by making such evidence understandable and useful, policymakers will be more likely to use it. Successful research communication should be based less on emotional appeals and simple stories, and more on a clear and dispassionate synthesis of the available evidence.'

I would suggest also that the job of researchers, synthesisers and communicators of research is not to push 'evidence-based solutions', but to provide the evidence upon which policymakers can make an informed choice and develop (with others) an evidence-informed solution.

… The goal of research communicators should be to empower policymakers to make informed decisions, not to persuade them (through emotional appeal or otherwise) to take a particular course. Furthermore, the latter approach is dangerous as it is often also biased by the misplaced need of the researcher, and the research funder, to 'demonstrate an impact'.


Date of HIFA message: 
Friday, March 25, 2016
Knowledge cycle: 
Users of healthcare information: 
Author Name: 
Neil Pakenham-Walsh
Author Organisational Type: 
DGroup URL
Links to the full text of the message and thread in the Dgroups archive; accessible only to HIFA members - join HIFA here (free); request full text by email to
Author profile: 

 Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All) and current chair of the Dgroups Foundation (  Twitter: @hifa_org   FB:


Author Country: 
Author Professional Status: 
Name of person(s) who selected this HIFA Quotation: