Bridging research and policy in aging: Issues of structure, process and communication

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					  Bridging research and policy in aging: Issues of structure, process and
  communication
  Anne Martin-Matthews

  Key words
  I   Older adults          I   Health care policy    I   Aging policy

         he ‘bridge’ between research and policy has long been                     interest and use to provincial/territorial decision makers.

  T      an interest of both the research and policy
         communities in aging. A joint special issue of the
  Canadian Journal on Aging and Canadian Public Policy, that I
                                                                                        On the ‘policy’ side of the bridge, there is increasing
                                                                                   interest and activity as well. To date, three provinces have
                                                                                   joined as partners in the Evidence on Tap pilot project:
  edited in 1997 with the late Ellen M. Gee, identified several                    Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Term Care, the
  key elements in this ‘bridging’ process: the communication of                    Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, and the New Brunswick
  research in order for it to have an impact, and for structures                   Department of Health. Already, such topics as “service
  and processes to be in place in order to facilitate the bridging                 delivery issues in rural areas” have been addressed.
  of policy and research. Increasingly, “policy-makers are                              In addition, there are initiatives focused specifically on
  recognizing the need for evidence-based decisions, and in the                    the bridge between research and policy. Some of these are
  process, reinforcing the power of the paradigm of research as                    specific to aging, while others have a broader focus,
  the basis for knowledge” (Gee, 1997, p. v). This statement is                    occasionally aimed at issues of aging. The Seniors Health
  more true today than when Gee wrote a decade ago, and                            Research Transfer Network (SHRTN, 2009) is an Ontario-
  certainly the structures and processes are more prevalent now.                   wide knowledge exchange network that links caregivers with
                                                                                   researchers and policy makers who work together to improve
       Structures and processes to bridge                                          heath care for seniors.
            the research-policy gap                                                     More broadly, both public and private sector initiatives
  On the ‘research’ side of the bridge, research funding organi-                   are designed to ‘bridge’ research and policy on aging. For
  zations almost routinely require specific evidence of the                        example, the Change Foundation (2008) is a policy think
  potential (and plan) for ‘knowledge translation’ as part of                      tank that aims to promote, support and improve health and
  research projects now. For example, in recognition of its                        the delivery of health care in Ontario; it is currently focused
  mandate to “excel, according to internationally accepted                         on supporting health care integration through evidence-
  standards of scientific excellence in the creation of new                        based policy and research.
  knowledge and its translation into improved health for                                The Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) works
  Canadians, more effective health services and products and a                     to inform Canadian governments and the public about
  strengthened Canadian health care system …,” the Canadian                        important public policy issues and to provide food for thought
  Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has placed considerable                     and best evidence to improve policies. The IRPP (2009) has
  emphasis on the application of findings from research                            launched a multi-year research program, Faces of Aging, to
  (CIHR, 2008a). CIHR’s innovative funding program,                                examine the broad social and economic policy challenges
  Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI)                                raised by Canada’s aging population, including the role of the
  supports teams of researchers and decision makers to                             public and private (for-profit and not-for-profit) sectors in
  conduct applied health systems and services research                             home-care and long-term care; governments’ role in
  responsive to needs of health care decision makers. This                         supporting informal caregiving and regulating private services;
  program requires at least one decision maker on the project                      and lessons from provincial innovations and best practices.
  right from the start (CIHR, 2008b).                                                   All of these examples demonstrate the increasing
        Because we deliver services at the level of provinces in                   recognition of the importance of “evidence” in decision-
  Canada, we have particular challenges for effective research –                   making, as well as the structures and processes that have been
  policy interface across provinces. CIHR (with leadership from                    designed to link evidence with policy and practice.
  its Institute of Health Services and Policy Research) is 
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: [...] in recognition of its mandate to "excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system ...," the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has placed considerable emphasis on the application of findings from research (CIHR, 2008a). Because we deliver services at the level of provinces in Canada, we have particular challenges for effective research - policy interface across provinces. The IRPP (2009) has launched a multi-year research program, Faces of Aging, to examine the broad social and economic policy challenges raised by Canada's aging population, including the role of the public and private (for-profit and not-for-profit) sectors in home-care and long-term care; governments' role in supporting informal caregiving and regulating private services; and lessons from provincial innovations and best practices.
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