Research silos: break them down to build relationships

Working on a wide range of Sax Institute rapid evidence reviews has been a key part of health economist Professor Chris Doran’s bid to engage policy in the research process.

Professor Chris Doran has worked on stronger research-policy relationships
Professor Doran: Research reviews have strengthened policy relationships

Professor Doran, who is the Research Professor in Health Economics from the Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research, School of Health Medical & Applied Sciences at Central Queensland University, is among a diverse range of researchers who have contributed to evidence reviews designed to answer specific policy or program questions, as part of the Institute’s Evidence Check rapid review service.

He became involved in the Evidence Check program in an effort to break down the “silo mentality” which sees many researchers working in isolation within their field, or even within their own faculty.

“The work I have been doing over the last 10 years is trying to engage more effectively with policy makers,” he said. “Health economics is very much translational research, in terms of having an impact on policy”.

Opportunities to boost research impact

Head of the Institute’s Knowledge Exchange Division, Ms Sian Rudge, said researchers could share their expertise by joining the Sax Radar database – a growing, national register of researchers in population health and health services policy, programs and services.

Researchers can now join the database online and will be alerted to opportunities to work on relevant Evidence Check reviews and other initiatives to help health decision makers access existing research, and to use it more effectively in their work.

“Evidence Check gives researchers the opportunity to work with policy and program agencies to support the use of research evidence in decision making,” Ms Rudge said.

“But increasingly there are other opportunities through the Sax Institute to engage in the policy and program sphere. Examples include conducting evaluations and becoming involved in exchanges, which are tailored meetings to discuss and progress thinking on specific areas of relevance to policy and program agencies.”

Understanding the policy landscape

Professor Doran has contributed to a number of Evidence Check reviews over in recent years, commissioned by a broad range of health agencies. These include reviews on evaluating the costs and benefits of mental health interventions; assessing the economic burden of mental ill health and suicide prevention interventions for Indigenous peoples.

He said the experience of working on rapid reviews had strengthened his work with other policy agencies, and the learnings gleaned from contributing to a range of reviews had helped inform his own research work.

“It gets you out of your comfort zone, and gives you an understanding of the broader policy landscape,” he says.

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