How can health policymakers be more empowered to deliver evidence-informed policy? Australian researchers are trying a new multifaceted approach called Web CIPHER, ‘an online tool with dynamic interactive elements such as hot topics, research summaries, blogs from trusted figures in health policy and research, a community bulletin board, multimedia section and research portal’. The study below aims to examine policymakers’ use of the site, and determines which sections are key drivers of use. You can read more about and join Web CIPHER here: https://www.saxinstitute.org.au/our-work/cipher/

CITATION: Usage of an online tool to help policymakers better engage with research: Web CIPHER

Steve R Makkar, Frances Gilham, Anna Williamson and Kellie Bisset

Implementation Science 2015, 10:56  doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0241-1

Published: 23 April 2015

Corresponding author: Steve R Makkar steve.makkar@saxinstitute.org.au

ABSTRACT (provisional)

Background: There is a need to develop innovations that help policymakers better engage with research in order to increase its use in policymaking. As part of the Centre for Informing Policy in Health with Evidence from Research (CIPHER), we established Web CIPHER, an online tool with dynamic interactive elements such as hot topics, research summaries, blogs from trusted figures in health policy and research, a community bulletin board, multimedia section and research portal. The aim of this study was to examine policymakers’ use of the website, and determine which sections were key drivers of use.

Methods: Google Analytics (GA) was used to gather usage data during a 16-month period. Analysis was restricted to Web CIPHER members from policy agencies. We examined descriptive statistics including mean viewing times, number of page visits and bounce rates for each section and performed analyses of variance to compare usage between sections. Repeated measures analyses were undertaken to examine whether a weekly reminder email improved usage of Web CIPHER, particularly for research-related content.

Results: During the measurement period, 223 policymakers from more than 32 organisations joined Web CIPHER. Users viewed eight posts on average per visit and stayed on the site for approximately 4 min. The bounce rate was less than 6%. The Blogs and Community sections received more unique views than all other sections. Blogs relating to improving policymakers’ skills in applying research to policy were particularly popular. The email reminder had a positive effect on improving usage, particularly for research-related posts.

Conclusions: The data indicated a relatively small number of users. However, this sample may not be representative of policymakers since membership to the site and usage was completely voluntarily. Nonetheless, those who used the site appeared to engage well with it. The findings suggest that providing blog-type content written by trusted experts in health policy and research as well as regular email reminders may provide an effective means of disseminating the latest research to policymakers through an online web portal.

The complete article is available as a provisional PDF. The fully formatted PDF and HTML versions are in production.  

http://www.implementationscience.com/content/pdf/s13012-015-0241-1.pdf

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