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How far can systematic reviews inform policy development for “wicked” rural health service problems?


Humphreys, JS and Kuipers, P and Wakerman, J and Wells, R and Jones, JA and Kinsman, LD, How far can systematic reviews inform policy development for 'wicked' rural health service problems?, Australian Health Review, 33, (4) pp. 592-600. ISSN 0156-5788 (2009) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2009 AHHA

DOI: doi:10.1071/AH090592


Policy makers and researchers increasingly look to systematic reviews as a means of connecting research and evidence more effectively with policy. Based on Australian research into rural and remote primary health care services, we note some concerns regarding the suitability of systematic review methods when applied to such settings. It suggests that rural and other health services are highly complex and researching them is akin to dealing with "wicked" problems. It proposes that the notion of "wicked" problems may inform our understanding of the issues and our choice of appropriate methods to inform health service policy. Key issues including the complexity of health services, methodological limitations of traditional reviews, the nature of materials under review, and the importance of the service context are highlighted. These indicate the need for broader approaches to capturing relevant evidence. Sustained, collaborative synthesis in which complexity, ambiguity and context is acknowledged is proposed as a way of addressing the wicked nature of these issues.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:systematic reviews; policy development; rural health
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Primary health care
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health policy evaluation
UTAS Author:Kinsman, LD (Professor Leigh Kinsman)
ID Code:97766
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Health Sciences B
Deposited On:2015-01-13
Last Modified:2015-04-13

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