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Int J Health Policy Manag. 2017 Jan 8;6(8):457-465. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2016.158.

A Qualitative Assessment of the Evidence Utilization for Health Policy-Making on the Basis of SUPPORT Tools in a Developing Country.

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Social Determinants of Health Research Center, Lorestan University of Medical Sciences, Khorramabad, Iran.
Department of Health Services Management, School of Medical Management and Information Sciences, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Knowledge Utilization Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



SUPPORT tools consist of 18 articles addressing the health policy-makers so that they can learn how to make evidence-informed health policies. These tools have been particularly recommended for developing countries. The present study tries to explain the process of evidence utilization for developing policy documents in the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHME) and to compare the findings with those of SUPPORT tools.


A qualitative research was conducted, using the framework analysis approach. Participants consisted of senior managers and technicians in MoHME. Purposeful sampling was done, with a maximum variety, for the selection of research participants: individuals having at least 5 years of experience in preparing evidence-based policy documents. Face-to-face interviews were conducted for data collection. As a guideline for the interviews, 'the Utilization of Evidence in Policy-Making Organizations' procedure was used. The data were analyzed through the analysis of the framework method using MAXQDA 10 software.


The participants acquired the research evidence in a topic-based form, and they were less likely to search on the basis of the evidence pyramid. To assess the quality of evidence, they did not use standard critical tools; to adapt the evidence and interventions with the local setting, they did not use the ideas and experiences of all stakeholders, and in preparing the evidence-based policy documents, they did not take into consideration the window of opportunity, did not refrain from using highly technical terms, did not write user-friendly summaries, and did not present alternative policy options. In order to develop health policies, however, they used the following innovations: attention to the financial burden of policy issues on the agenda, sensitivity analysis of the preferred policy option on the basis of technical, sociopolitical, and economic feasibility, advocacy from other scholars, using the multi-criteria decision-making models for the prioritization of policy options, implementation of policy based on the degree of readiness of policy-implementing units, and the classification of policy documents on the basis of different conditions of policy-making (urgent, short-term, and long-term).


Findings showed that the process of evidence utilization in IR-MoH enjoys some innovations for the support of health policy development. The present study provides IR-MoH with considerable opportunities for the improvement of evidence-informed health policy-making. Moreover, the SUPPORT process and tools are recommended to be used in developing countries.


Evidence-Based Health Policy-Making; Health Policy-Making; Iran; Utilization of Evidence

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