Decision-makers’ experiences with rapid evidence summaries to support real-time evidence informed decision-making in crises: A mixed methods study


There is a clear need for research evidence to drive policymaking and emergency responses so that lives are not lost, and resources are not wasted. To improve the use of research evidence into policy and practice, it is important to provide corresponding products tailored to the target audience (e.g., rapid evidence summaries). This study aims to gain real-world insights from decision-makers in crisis zones about how they use evidence summaries to inform decision-making.


A sequential mixed method study design was used. First, we used a survey to identify the views and experiences of using evidence summaries by those who were directly involved in crises response in different contexts. Second, we used the insights generated from the survey to help inform qualitative interviews with decision-makers in crisis zones to derive an in-depth understanding of how they use evidence summaries and the desired evidence summary format.


A diverse set of 23 stakeholders working in health and humanitarian emergencies across the world from various organizations participated in this study. Decision-makers identified the following the key evidence summaries features including: citation of the full-text the summary is based upon, a sentence indicating the relevance of the findings to the specific health and humanitarian emergency (take-away messages), actionable checklist of the key findings retrieved from the full study, indication of the research methods with clear indication of the date of the most recent literature search and reference to any low resource settings, key contextual implications to the findings presented, visually appealing infographics of the key findings, assessment of the quality of the evidence presented, and access to the full-text article and to further readings on the same topic. Decision-makers identified specific suggestions about how to improve online platforms hosting evidence summaries, many of which can also be applied to other evidence websites.  


With the exponential plethora of health research evidence, little is known about the use of evidence summaries to inform real-time decision-making. This study provided real-world insights from decision-makers in crisis zones about how they use evidence summaries to inform decision-making. The findings from this study contribute to strengthening the use of research evidence in crises.

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