News roundup

Published: 12 September 2018

New initiative to build capacity in evidence informed decision making

The health service, policy makers and the public will benefit from a €2 million, all-island, investment to improve ways of gathering and combining evidence (known as evidence synthesis) and using it effectively to inform health and health care decisions.

People putting jijsaw pieces together

Evidence synthesis is a structured process where relevant information on a topic is gathered, reviewed, assessed and brought together to support evidence-informed policy and / or practice decisions. This new initiative, Evidence Synthesis Ireland, will be funded for three years by the Health Research Board (€1.5 m) and the Research & Development Division of the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland (€0.5 m).

According to Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the HRB,

'This investment will strengthen and consolidate Ireland's existing capabilities in the area of evidence synthesis. It also supports a key action in the Slaintécare report, which highlights that evidence should be at the core of routine decision-making across the health system'.

Importantly, this new initiative includes the relaunch of Cochrane Ireland, whose mission is to promote evidence-informed health decision-making by producing high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence.

Professor Declan Devane, Professor of Midwifery at NUI Galway and Director of the HRB - Trials Methodology Research Network, who will lead Evidence Synthesis Ireland commented,

'We are delighted to receive this award and excited by the potential it has to make a difference to health care decisions across the Island. Health care decisions should be based on the full range of information that is available on a topic; it can't rely on one or more individual pieces of information, or studies. We want to build people's capacity to conduct syntheses of evidence in any topic. Evidence Synthesis Ireland will identify where existing skills can be enhanced. We will deliver new training, in addition to fellowships and studentship opportunities. We are fortunate to be working with an amazing team and our collaborators include some of the leading evidence synthesis experts and centres globally. Together, we are already planning our first series of workshops, webinars and train the trainer programmes, which will be announced in early 2019. These will be available to health professionals, researchers and policymakers in health and to the public.'

Speaking about the collaboration, Janice Bailie, Assistant Director, Research and Development Division, Public Health Agency, said,

‘We are very pleased to continue our collaboration with the Health Research Board to support capacity building and training in the important area of evidence synthesis. This will help build on the achievements of Cochrane Ireland and we look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland to promote greater access to the latest research findings for researchers, policy makers, health professionals and service users across the island. This is the start of a very exciting journey and we are delighted to be part of it’.

'The award builds on the substantial investment by both agencies in evidence synthesis to date’, says Dr Catherine Gill, HRB. ‘For 15 years the HRB and HSC Research and Development Division have been offering training opportunities in evidence synthesis aligned with the Cochrane Collaboration. Evidence Synthesis Ireland will continue to work with the Cochrane Collaboration as the major player in this field, but will address additional evidence synthesis approaches to ensure that Ireland has the expertise to meet the evidence needs of policy makers, practitioners and the public in the future'.

Evidence Synthesis Ireland will continue to align with the wider Cochrane collaboration of which Cochrane Ireland will remain part.

To register your interest in receiving more information about Evidence Synthesis Ireland (and Cochrane Ireland), please contact ESI@nuigalway.ie