Online Program

Evidence: What is it and does it matter?

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Bridget Catlin, PhD, 517 WARF Building, Department of Population Health Sciences, Madison, WI
Alison Bergum, MPA, UW Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Jennifer Russ, MPA, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Madison, WI
Objective:Everyone talks about implementing evidence-based policies and programs but what is “evidence”, how do we find evidence, and what if there is no evidence to be found? We will review sources of evidence, compare different approaches to rating evidence, and discuss use of evidence in efforts to improve community health. Study Design: We conducted a qualitative review of ten web sites that provide ratings of evidence of effectiveness for policies and programs that address the multiple determinants of health to determine how each site defined and assigned different ratings of evidence. Analysis: We examined each site to see whether and how they addressed the many dimensions to consider when assessing the effectiveness of a given policy or program. For example: How many studies were reviewed? How strong is the demonstrated effect? Have results been replicated? Has causality been established? Principal Findings: Among the variety of potential sources of “evidence”, the term “evidence-based” is widely used but with inconsistent definitions. Standards for evidence differ across disciplines. Assessing evidence and assigning ratings requires careful attention to the quality and quantity of findings from intervention research. Conclusion: Concise, reliable summaries of evidence of effectiveness can help inform policy and program selection and funding decisions. Knowledge of ratings of effectiveness should be balanced with local needs, resources, and culture when deciding which policies and programs to implement.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss that the term “evidence-based” means different things to different organizations. Describe the elements to consider when searching for evidence of effectiveness. Identify where to look for evidence and how to proceed if evidence is lacking.

Keyword(s): Evidence Based Practice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. I have led the evidence analysis work for the development of the What Works database as part of the Making Wisconsin the Healthiest State project since 2005 and as part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program since 2009. I hold a PhD in Industrial Engineering with a focus on Decision Science and Health Systems from the University of Wisconsin.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.