Communicating health research (37) Responses to Q1, Q2, and Q3

15 September, 2022

These are my answers to the first three.

1. What do we mean by Effective communication of health research to policymakers? How do we measure it?

In my opinion this refers to making research products more accessible to policymakers by packaging it in a way that makes it easier for them to understand and also find useful. It must address specific problems and be linked to existing government policies. How much of the evidence is used for formulating policies could be used as a measure of effective communication.

2. What are the different approaches to communicating research (eg academic journals, policy briefs, interaction with policymakers, press releases, social media, infographics, use of video)? What is your experience with these approaches? What works and what doesn't?

There are a variety of ways to present the same information and from my experience, lengthy reports and academic journals are hardly used by policymakers. Rather, briefs, press releases and infographics catch their attention. Sometimes as a researcher, you are often asked what the key message is from all the study results and what is your call for action. This can be hard if your study has several objectives but I would limit the key messages to at most three per study.

3. What is the role of researchers in research communication, beyond publication of their paper? What is the role of other stakeholders (eg communication professionals, editors, media, public health professionals and critical thinkers)

The researchers work does not end with the publication of their paper as is often the case. It is important for the results to be given more visibility. Many times, researchers are not fully equipped with the skills to communicate findings using other approaches. This is where other communication professionals are needed to bridge this gap. The role of the media in disseminating research findings should not be overlooked especially when findings are relevant for policymakers. But the media should be given the right information and key concepts explained to them properly. Otherwise they may put their own spin on the results and distort the findings. There should guidelines for engaging the media and transparency throughout the process.

Ama Pokuaa Fenny

ISSER, University of Ghana

HIFA profile: Ama Pokuaa Fenny is a Senior Research Fellow with the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economics Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana. She is a health economist whose research focuses on the evaluation of health and development programs in low- and middle-income country settings. In these settings, she studies the role of health financing strategies in offering social protection to vulnerable groups, targeted health system strategies to improve health seeking behavior and costing and cost-effectiveness methods that address efficiency of health programmes. Her current research focuses on the evaluation of child and adolescent health interventions and the integration of governmental policies into service delivery systems in Africa. At ISSER, Dr. Fenny provides leadership and oversight to projects involving research, project implementation, technical assistance and policy advocacy across a range of subjects. She is a member of the HIFA working group on Communicating health research. amafenny AT

[*Note from NPW, moderator: For reminder of the five questions and background: ]