Assessing the usefulness of systematic reviews for policymakers in public health: a case study of overweight and obesity prevention interventions

James Kite, Devon Indig, Seema Mihrshahi, Andrew Milat, Adrian Bauman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Systematic reviews (SRs) should include policy-relevant information in order to more readily inform policy and practice. We investigated whether SRs of overweight and obesity prevention interventions are framed in such a way that maximises their usefulness for policymakers. Method: We conducted a systematic review of SRs of overweight and obesity prevention interventions published in 4 databases any time up to December 2014. We analysed the SRs for their usefulness to policymakers, using a coding frame developed based on literature around what policymakers want and need from systematic reviews. Systematic reviews were assessed fora) policy links and framing; b) quality assessment and conflict of interest statements: and c) discussion of policy implications. Results: Of the 153 SRs that met the inclusion criteria, very few (7%) had authors from policy-based organisations, 48% had funding from such organisations, and almost a third (31%) framed their introduction or aims around policy. Most (69%) discussed issues affecting generalisability of the SR findings but only a quarter(24%) discussed cost or cost-effectiveness of the intervention under investigation. Less than a third (29%) of SRs discussed the policy implications of their findings. SRs that were policy-framed were significantly more likely to discuss costs (PR = 1.8, 95%CI 1.0–3.0) and policy implications (PR = 2.5, 95%CI 1.5–4.0). Conclusion: SRs should discuss the policy and practice implications of their findings to maximise the influence of SRs on policy making. It is recommended that SR guidelines are updated to include generalisability and discussion of policy and practice implications as a requirement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalPreventive Medicine
Volume81
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • public health
  • systematic reviews
  • obesity
  • policy
  • prevention

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