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Experiences and attitudes toward evidence-informed policy-making among Canadian research and policy stakeholders working at the interface of agri-food and public health

Date and Location




Saturday 21 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Ian Young

Contact person

Ian Young
Abstract text
Background: Policy-makers working at the interface of agri-food and public health often deal with complex and cross-cutting issues that have broad health impacts and socio-economic implications. They have a responsibility to ensure that policy-making based on these issues is accountable and informed by the best available scientific evidence. Objectives: We conducted a qualitative descriptive study of agri-food public health policy-makers and research and policy analysts in Ontario, Canada, to understand their perspectives on how the policy-making process is currently informed by scientific evidence and how to facilitate this process. Methods: Five focus groups of 3-7 participants and five one-to-one interviews were held in 2012 with participants from federal and provincial government departments and industry organizations in the agri-food public health sector. We conducted a thematic analysis of the focus group and interview transcripts to identify overarching themes. Results: Participants indicated that the following six key principles are necessary to enable and demonstrate evidence-informed policy-making in this sector: 1) Establish and clarify the policy objectives and context; 2) Support policy-making with credible scientific evidence from different sources; 3) Integrate scientific evidence with other diverse policy inputs (e.g. economics, local applicability, and stakeholder interests); 4) Ensure that scientific evidence is communicated by research and policy stakeholders in relevant and user-friendly formats; 5) Create and foster interdisciplinary relationships and networks across research and policy communities; and, 6) Enhance organizational capacity and individual skills for evidence-informed policy-making. Conclusions: Ongoing and planned efforts in these areas and a supportive culture in both research and policy realms are important to facilitate evidence-informed policy-making in this sector.