Communicating health research (28) Q2. What are the different approaches to communicating research? (4)

11 September, 2022

Welcome to week 2 of our discussion on Communicating health research, with thanks to TDR for their support.

This week I invite you to comment on Question 2: What are the different approaches to communicating research?

What is your experience of communicating research to policymakers?

Which approaches have you used? (eg academic journals, policy briefs, interaction with policymakers, press releases, social media, television, radio...)

Can you share one example of successful communication to policymakers? What approach worked for you? How did you know it was successful?

Can you share an example of failed communication to policymakers? Perhaps an example where the relevant policymakers remained unaware of your research? Or an example where they ignored it or failed to us it in policy and implementation?

We have already had a few contributions on this topic:

1. Journal editor Irina Ibraghimova (Croatia) points to the importance for researchers to include Practical implications in their papers.

2. NPW suggests (almost) all research should at least be available in a peer-reviewed journal, and argues that open access is a critical aspect of effective communication of health research to policymakers.

3. Joseph Ana (Nigeria) discusses pre-prints and blogs, and notes how they can sidestep the peer review process

4. Joseph Ana (Nigeria) notes that 'Policy briefs are generally valued by policy-makers, although a systematic review by Rob Terry, Tanja Kuchenmuller et al fails to find much evidence of impact.

5. Richard Fitton (UK) suggests researchers may also need to consider communicating with "influencers" as the UN did using the South Korea K-pop group BTS last year General Assembly.

6. Chris Zielinski (UK) notes the importance for researchers to communicate not only with policymakers but also academia and funders, and notes the need to engage with the media.

7. Ellos Lodzeni (Malawi) emphasises that researchers should 'involve and engage the users through their Associations or organizations'.

8. Wilber Sabiiti (UK) asks: Is there anything that we can learn from COVID-19 response? Here there was a 'hunger for evidence to support policy decisions almost daily'... 'There was a direct line of communication between scientists (national scientific advisory committees) and policy makers and often media played the 3rd partly role of informing the public of decisions taken.'

9. Chris Zielinski (UK) notes 'It is nice to imagine that health policy makers spend their Sundays reading academic biomedical journals - or even the policy briefs laboriously prepared for them by intermediaries - nice, but completely unlikely. Instead, they kick on the TV, grab the newspaper, listen to a podcast or read a tweet.'

Looking forward to hear your thoughts and experience. Please send to the HIFA forum:

Many thanks,


Joint Coordinator, HIFA Communicating health research

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Coordinator HIFA,

Global Healthcare Information Network: Working in official relations with WHO