In our jobs, we have to make decisions about many different things such as programs, policies, strategies, staffing and service delivery. We all want to make the best decisions possible for our organizations and the people we serve.
Evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) is the process of involving the best available research evidence into the decision-making process.
The reality is that many factors influence our decisions. This model below, which has been adapted from the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT), highlights some of the common sources of evidence that get considered in the decision-making process in the realm of health and social change efforts.
The weight and influence that each factor will have on the decision-making process depends on the specific circumstances, as well as the skills and values held by the individuals and groups involved in the process.
The placement of expertise at the centre of the model is intentional and represents the notion that decision-makers have to also draw on their implied topic-specific knowledge and expertise to incorporate all the relevant factors into the final decision or recommendation.
The four sources of evidence are described in the table below.
|Sources of Evidence||Examples of Evidence for Consideration|
|1. Evidence about the frequency, causes, and modifying factors of local community issues and context||
|2. Evidence from research||
|3. Evidence from people about community and political preferences and actions||
|4. Evidence from various places about resources||
Source: National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (2012). A Model for Evidence-Informed Decision-Making in Public Health. [fact sheet]. Retrieved from: www.nccmt.ca/pubs/FactSheet_EIDM_EN_WEB.pdf
Why is EIDM Important? What are the benefits to your organization?
The NCCMT has developed a thorough overview of the stages involved in EIDM and has developed supporting resources and tools for the various stages. While these resources are presented from a public health lens, they are generic enough to be applied to many other fields of practice.
Click on the wheel below to link to the NCCMT website and learn more about each stage, starting with "DEFINE".
Do You Have Limited Time to Review Research Evidence?
These days, many people are pressed for time and so the stages of "Appraising" and "Synthesizing" the evidence may not always be feasible to do.
In this situation, the "hierarchy of evidence" and looking for "pre-appraised" and "synthesized" evidence becomes very useful because it helps you to advance your EIDM journey to the "Adapt" stage a bit quicker. It does some of the appraisal and synthesizing for you!
By starting at the top of the evidence pyramid (as shown below) you can begin to speed up your EIDM journey! It is important to note that in several fields of practice, particularly when it comes to community–based health promotion and social change initiatives, there is less evidence at the "systems" and "summaries" level. These are more typical in clinical or medical fields of practice.
Therefore, starting your search on the pyramid at the level of "Synopses of Syntheses" tends to be most common in the field of community-based health promotion and social change efforts.
Click here to access a Search Pyramid of General Public Health Research Evidence.
Source: National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools. 6S Pyramid. Retrieved from: www.nccmt.ca/eiph/search-eng.html#modal_window#modal_window
EIDM Resources and Training
To access more information and training on EIDM, check out the following resources: