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Implement Sci. 2017 Sep 20;12(1):116. doi: 10.1186/s13012-017-0642-4.

Structural analysis of health-relevant policy-making information exchange networks in Canada.

Author information

Faculté des Sciences Infirmières, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128 succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7, Canada.
National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP), 190 Boulevard Crémazie Est, Montréal, QC, H2P 1E2, Canada.
School of Nursing 3H48C, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4K1, Canada.
École de réadaptation, Université Sherbrooke, 3001, 12e Avenue Nord, Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 5N4, Canada.
Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street, Suite 425, Toronto, ON, M5T 3M6, Canada.
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG, UK.
Department of Anthropology, Mcgill University, 7th Floor Leacock Building, 855 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, H3A 2T7, Canada.
InterActions, centre de recherche et de partage des savoirs, 11 822, avenue du Bois-de-Boulogne, Montréal, QC, H3M 2X7, Canada.
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Centre for Clinical Research, Dalhousie University, Room 425, 5790 University Ave, Halifax, NS, B3H 1V7, Canada.
School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Room G26, Forrest Bldg., PO Box 15000, 5869 University Ave, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada.
School of Public Health, 3-300 Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, University of Alberta, 11405 - 87 Ave, Edmonton, AB, T6G 1C9, Canada.
UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, Vancouver Campus, 201-2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada.
Department of Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Room S113-50 Bannatyne Ave, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 0W3, Canada.
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Health Sciences Building 155 College St., Room 540, Toronto, ON, M5T 3M7, Canada.
Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 2001 N. Soto Ave, Room 302w, Los Angeles, CA, 90034, Canada.
School of Public Administration, University of Victoria, PO Box 1700, STN CSC, Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2, Canada.
Canadian Nurses Association, 50 Driveway, Ottawa, ON, K2P 1E2, Canada.
Faculté des Sciences Infirmières, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128 succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7, Canada.



Health systems worldwide struggle to identify, adopt, and implement in a timely and system-wide manner the best-evidence-informed-policy-level practices. Yet, there is still only limited evidence about individual and institutional best practices for fostering the use of scientific evidence in policy-making processes The present project is the first national-level attempt to (1) map and structurally analyze-quantitatively-health-relevant policy-making networks that connect evidence production, synthesis, interpretation, and use; (2) qualitatively investigate the interaction patterns of a subsample of actors with high centrality metrics within these networks to develop an in-depth understanding of evidence circulation processes; and (3) combine these findings in order to assess a policy network's "absorptive capacity" regarding scientific evidence and integrate them into a conceptually sound and empirically grounded framework.


The project is divided into two research components. The first component is based on quantitative analysis of ties (relationships) that link nodes (participants) in a network. Network data will be collected through a multi-step snowball sampling strategy. Data will be analyzed structurally using social network mapping and analysis methods. The second component is based on qualitative interviews with a subsample of the Web survey participants having central, bridging, or atypical positions in the network. Interviews will focus on the process through which evidence circulates and enters practice. Results from both components will then be integrated through an assessment of the network's and subnetwork's effectiveness in identifying, capturing, interpreting, sharing, reframing, and recodifying scientific evidence in policy-making processes.


Knowledge developed from this project has the potential both to strengthen the scientific understanding of how policy-level knowledge transfer and exchange functions and to provide significantly improved advice on how to ensure evidence plays a more prominent role in public policies.


Health-relevant policies; Heath policy; Knowledge exchange; Policy-making; Social network analysis

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