Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Use of evidence to support healthy public policy: a policy effectiveness–feasibility loop

Sarah Bowman, Nigel Unwin, Julia Critchley, Simon Capewell, Abdullatif Husseini, Wasim Maziak, Shahaduz Zaman, Habiba Ben Romdhane, Fouad Fouad, Peter Phillimore, Belgin Unal, Rana Khatib, Azza Shoaibi & Balsam Ahmad

Public policy plays a key role in improving population health and in the control of diseases, including non-communicable diseases. However, an evidence-based approach to formulating healthy public policy has been difficult to implement, partly on account of barriers that hinder integrated work between researchers and policy-makers. This paper describes a “policy effectiveness–feasibility loop” (PEFL) that brings together epidemiological modelling, local situation analysis and option appraisal to foster collaboration between researchers and policy-makers. Epidemiological modelling explores the determinants of trends in disease and the potential health benefits of modifying them. Situation analysis investigates the current conceptualization of policy, the level of policy awareness and commitment among key stakeholders, and what actually happens in practice, thereby helping to identify policy gaps. Option appraisal integrates epidemiological modelling and situation analysis to investigate the feasibility, costs and likely health benefits of various policy options. The authors illustrate how PEFL was used in a project to inform public policy for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in four parts of the eastern Mediterranean. They conclude that PEFL may offer a useful framework for researchers and policy-makers to successfully work together to generate evidence-based policy, and they encourage further evaluation of this approach.