“Globalise the evidence, localise the decision” was John Eisenberg’s meme of 2002. It set the stage for evidence synthesis to summarize global evidence, then tools to apply this more locally. With UKaid committed to evidence-informed policy, Department for International Development (DFID) advisers are mandated to identify generate and use best evidence and knowledge to improve the effectiveness and impact of its programmes. With this in mind, DFID commissioned a 3-day primer course at LSTM in systematic reviews in health development.
The course, Systematic reviews in health development: globalize the evidence, localize the decision, was designed by a team from Liverpool and Cape Town, and led by LSTM’s Professor Paul Garner, Director of the Effective Health Care Research Consortium (EHCRC) and Co-ordinating Editor of the CIDG. It was designed to enable the participants to confidently identify, appraise, and interpret reliable data drawing on explicit criteria and recognize effective approaches to policy formation and guideline development.
Drawing on Cochrane Reviews of effects of interventions, the teaching approach encouraged active participation within the group discussions with time at the start and end of each day for reflection. “I left the course knowing and understanding more about current approaches to combining the results of studies on effects and qualitative studies in systematic reviews, and more confident about applying this in a variety of roles and situations in DFID including commissioning” said one of the participants.
Professor Garner said: “DFID is expected to deliver effective, targeted interventions drawing on a variety of evidence sources, which is where systematic reviews come in. Over the last 25 years, systematic reviews have become accepted as best practice for summarizing research with an explosion in the number available. This course is all about equipping the advisors to appraise any piece of research to see if it reliable, understanding what the review shows and the limits to the evidence presented.”