The Department of Health Reviews Facility aims to put the evidence into development and implementation of health policy through:
- Undertaking policy-relevant systematic reviews of health and social care research
- Developing capacity for undertaking and using reviews
- Producing new and improved methods for undertaking reviews
- Promoting global awareness and use of systematic reviews in decision-making
The Department of Health Reviews Facility is a collaboration between three centres of excellence: EPPI-Centre (Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre), Institute of Education, London; CRD (Centre for Reviews and Dissemination), University of York; and PIRU (Policy Innovation Research Unit), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
In addition to conducting reviews we contribute to promoting the global awareness and use of systematic reviews through links with the Cochrane Collaboration’s Public Health, the Qualitative & Implementation Methods Groups and the Cochrane / Campbell Health Equity Methods Group.
The Department of Health reviews facility has grown out of a previous ‘reviews facility’ in Health Promotion and Public Health; this is the longest-running programme of work in the EPPI-Centre, and has been funded by the Department since 1995.
Scope of the programme
UK decision-makers increasingly demand and use evidence to inform public policy. They need research evidence about the effects (good or bad) and the appropriateness of health, public health and social care interventions. There is a need to draw on diverse types of evidence from across the health and social sciences to address policy questions. This approach requires a national programme of systematic review work to provide the evidence that supports UK policy development and implementation.
The Department of Health Reviews Facility not only provides evidence from its own systematic reviews but also aims to improve the quality of systematic reviews by advancing current and developing new methods. Some of our most well-known contributions have been:
• helping to develop distinctive conceptual frameworks for health promotion and public health reviews;
• developing the 'two-stage' review process by including a 'mapping' stage;
• including 'qualitative' research alongside trials in systematic reviews; and,
• more recently, in testing the applicability of using 'text mining' technologies in systematic reviews.
The Reviews Facility maintains three specialised registers on health promotion and public health, providing a unique source of keyworded trials, systematic reviews and other primary research in this field. These can be accessed from the databases page.