Researchers can support policymakers in their work!

 
Researchers can support policymakers in their work!

On the 9th of September 2016, Carole Ponchon, EOSE PR and Projects manager, took part to the Final Symposium of the REPOPA project. She has been invited to contribute to the event as an expert by the project leader, Professor Arja R. Aro from the University of Southern Denmark.

REPOPA project stands for Research into Policy to enhance Physical Activity; it is a five year project, ending in September 2016, funded by European Union, 7th Framework Program. Researchers from six EU countries of Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, UK, plus Canada, are project partners.

The project was born on the assessment that even though there were many existing researches and studies showcasing the impact of the rising physical inactivity as well as potential area of investment in order to tackle this issue, the link between researchers and policy-makers has often proved to be too weak for researchers to provide recommendations to policymakers to take health issues such as physical activity seriously and integrate it in everyday lives of people. Fact is policymakers juggle with numerous pressures, points of view and resources and therefore research evidence is not the primary driver of their work. This can be explained by the fact that for example, research are not available or applicable when needed, academic language can be difficult, and there is no procedures to gather research knowledge or meet researchers.

The REPOPA project found usable ways to support policymakers in their use of research evidence in developing policies while in particular building upon baseline findings on the use of researches as well as two kinds of interventions – simulation policy game and Stewardship interventions- to learn if policymakers could be helped in finding and using research evidence. These learnings and findings were integrated then into usable tools such as indicators for evidence-informed policymaking (which can be used as a checklist in policymaking to assess how well the policy in question is actually evidence-informed).

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The REPOPA results and action points rising from them were discussed in the Final Symposium of the project, where over 20 invited experts representing ministries, institutes and different organisations in Europe took part, together with the same number of REPOPA researchers.
The Symposium program contained welcoming from REPOPA Coordinator, Professor Arja R Aro as well as from the EC Project Officer for REPOPA Rachida Ghalouci. After that, to create a country-context, representatives of the six European countries told their perspectives on evidence-informed policymaking in their countries. Then REPOPA work package leaders summarized the core findings, innovations and added value of their work.
The afternoon of the Symposium was reserved for group discussions in the format of world café (learning café) on four central topics needing further work in the area of evidence-informed policymaking especially in physical activity. The topics concerned facilitators and barriers, competences needed, contextual factors and implementation challenges in developing evidence-informed policies.

It is extremely interesting that even if the REPOPA project used physical activity as the theme in its work; the lessons learned and tools developed can be applied to other fields, especially in the area of healthy living.
To conclude let’s keep in mind one of the most important message from the REPOPA project: we shall speak of and aim at #EvidenceInformed rather than #EvidenceBased #PolicyMaking to take into account the reality and build up the workforce of the sector to ensure the development of approriate skills for the “mediator” between researchers and policy makers.

Want to read more about REPOPA findings? Visit the project website

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