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Free Online Course – A framework for analyzing public policies

Constructing a Logic Model for a Healthy Public Policy: Why and How?
669 K

A Framework for Analyzing Public Policies – Practical Guide
643 K

Method for Synthesizing Knowledge About Public Policies
  323 K

What Works for Health: Policies and Programs that can Improve Health  - A directory of short descriptions of different public policies. Each summarizes the data about the policy's effectiveness and provides a few indications about its implementation and its impact on inequalities. On the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps site (USA).

Prevention Policy Directory. A regularly updated, searchable inventory of Canadian policies as well as legal instruments (legislation, regulations, codes). The Directory is on Cancerview Canada.

How can the health equity impact of universal policies be evaluated? Insights into approaches and next steps
6.26 MB. Milton, B., et al. (Eds.) (2011). On the site of the World Health Organization. 

Practitioner opinions on health promotion interventions that work: Opening the “black box” of a linear evidence-based approach. Kok, M., et al. (2012). Social Science and Medicine, 74, 715-723. doi:10.1016/j. socscimed.2011.11.021   Abstract on the site PubMed.

Assessing equity in systematic reviews: realising the recommendations of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Tugwell, P., et al. (2010). BMJ 2010; 341: bmj.c4739. On the site of the BMJ.

Real world reviews: A beginner's guide to undertaking systematic reviews of public health policy interventions. Bambra, C. (2009). Abstract available on the site the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. doi:10.1136/jech.2009.088740 

Conceptualizing and Combining Evidence for Health System Guidance.  By Lomas, J., et al. (2005). Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF). On the site of the CHSRF

Systematic reviews in social policy: To go foward, do we first need to look back? By Pearson, M. 2007. In Evidence & Policy : A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 3 (4) pp. 505-526. Abstract on the site of ingentaConnect.

Florence Morestin

Analyzing Public Policies

The NCCHPP promotes the use of scientific research and other knowledge to inform decision making. Knowledge syntheses are central in this endeavour, since the data they provide are more reliable than the data from a single study. Public health actors are therefore called upon to produce such syntheses in order to inform decision makers during the promotion, adoption and implementation of public policies.

Image of blackboard with arrows © Marek Uliasz   

But what constitutes “evidence” when looking at healthy public policies? Where can it be found? How can we address the specific challenges related to synthesizing this knowledge?

Systematic reviews of effectiveness, designed to synthesize knowledge on biomedical interventions, are inappropriate to the study of public policies. 

Decision makers want to know the effectiveness of public policies, but they are also very interested in issues related to their implementation, and the methods used to carry out traditional systematic reviews do not allow us to document such issues.

Knowledge synthesis method
Drawing inspiration from political science, policy analysis, literature on evidence-informed decision making in public health, literature on evaluation, and theoretical developments related to deliberative processes, the NCCHPP has developed a knowledge synthesis method that is applicable to public policies:

Dimensions analyzed – The effectiveness of the public policy that is being studied, but also its unintended effects, its effects on equity, and implementation issues of concern to decision makers: financial costs, technical feasibility, and the policy's acceptability to stakeholders.

Sources – The scientific literature, the grey literature, and the relevant stakeholders in the context in which the knowledge synthesis is performed.

Means – An inventory of the public policies proposed to address the targeted health problem, the construction of the logic model of the policy being studied, a literature review (in a way that is methodical but appropriate to the study of public policies), and deliberative processes bringing together stakeholders. Click here to learn more about deliberative processes.

In our publications section you will find the report outlining the theoretical foundations for this method as well as the procedure for how to apply it.

Also just published – An example of how this method can be applied: A synthesis of knowledge on public policies on nutrition labelling.

Two shorter, summary documents have recently been published as well. We will also provide methodological support to public health actors who are interested in applying this method in their work.

Photo Credits:
© Marek Uliasz
For information about how to legally obtain these images,
click here.

We would like to hear from you
Please send us a note to share your comments on our work, or to let us know about potential projects, ideas, interests, or new resources relating to healthy public policy.


The production of the NCCHPP website has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada.