To Learn More
Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. World Health Organization, 1986. On the site of the World Health Organization.

Beyond Health Care: From Public Health Policy to Healthy Public Policy. Trevor Hancock,  465 K, available on this site with the permission of the Canadian Journal of Public Health (76, Supplement 1, 1985).

The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on the State of Public Health In Canada 2008: Addressing Health Inequalities. Dr. David Butler-Jones. On the site of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

A Healthy, Productive Canada: A Determinant of Health Approach. The final report of the Senate Subcommittee on Population Health, 2009. On the site of the Government of Canada.

Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health.  World Health Organization, Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2008. On the site of the World Health Organization.

Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. By Mikkonen, J. and Raphael, D. 2010. Available on the site,

CHNET-Works! Fireside chats (webinars and blog in population health). On the site of CHNET-Works!

Social Determinants of Health On the site of the World Health Organization.

Determinants of Health On the site of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts. Wilkinson, R. and Marmot, M. Eds., 2003.  469 K. On the site of the World Health Organization.

SUPPORT Tools for evidence-informed health Policymaking. On the site of the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement.

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Generate and use knowledge about healthy public policies
We are in the midst of a revolution, the sort of time in which the title of a paper like, Seventy-Five Trials and Eleven Systematic Reviews a Day: How Will We Ever Keep Up?(Note 1) makes perfect sense to us. That paper was written from the perspective of medical research, but it speaks to us nonetheless, as it applies to managing the volume of information and knowledge available to us, and most importantly, the challenges we face in finding and using relevant material. (Note 2)
Image of arrow signs: © Pedro Antonio Salaverría Calahorra   The NCCHPP believes that the best strategy for generating and using knowledge is to link those who are traditionally considered to be knowledge “producers” with those who are considered to be knowledge “users”. 

Indeed, part of the rationale for the National Collaborating Centres is to provide a crucial link between the research community and the world of practitioners, policy-makers and others with a role or a stake in improving public health. That is, helping to bridge knowledge with action.

How does research get noticed?
In a 2002 paper entitled Health policy-makers' perceptions of their use
of evidence: a systematic review
, Innvaer et al. outlined the "most commonly
mentioned facilitators of the use of research evidence in policy-making." (Note 3) They  were as follows:

•  "Personal contact between researchers and policymakers,
•  Timeliness and relevance of the research,
•  Research that included a summary with clear recommendations",
•  …. And down the list, 

            ....a long way down, in fact....

           "effectiveness data".  (Note 4)

Linking research, practice and decision-making
Bringing the research community together with the broader public health and policy-making communities has multiple benefits. First, the potential gaps in research and identified needs among knowledge users are more likely to be communicated to those who can work on them. Secondly, having users' and decision-makers' active engagement in the development of research will strongly influence the likelihood of that research being used later on. Thirdly, with different actors and sectors involved there is a greater likelihood that different contextual factors, other kinds of knowledge (such as tacit knowledge, another kind of expertise), and deeper understanding of the issues behind a research agenda can inform the kind of work that is developed. Finally, with an emphasis on co-developing knowledge, the production can also aim towards results that are user-friendly, strongly oriented towards context, relevance and usefulness, with interactive methods for sharing the results.

There will always be an essential role for scientific research, traditionally understood, and there will always be standards for evaluating degrees of confidence or certainty that we may place in the results of research. This applies to work in healthy public policy as well. However, we must acknowledge that policy interventions often cannot be evaluated by controlled experimental methods. An approach to science as systematic study will allow additional sources of knowledge to be considered, while still granting that some methods are more systematic than others.

At the Centre, we try to broaden and deepen our knowledge about healthy public policies by applying ethical, economic and other social lenses, adding these important dimensions to particular issues in order to inform policies. Also, we consider the importance of the concept of evidence itself and try to recognize that evidence is not value-neutral: that it is defined by, and stands in relation to, a question and a frame (epistemological, social, contextual). What counts as evidence in a particular case depends on the context in which we ask the question.

Finally, we do our work from the perspective of generating knowledge collaboratively. This may mean discussion and analysis of research evidence in a group setting and considering its applicability to a policy environment, whether through deliberative or other processes. This may mean a round table considering factors supporting or impeding the implementation of Health Impact Assessment at the federal level. This may mean hosting meetings of researchers and practitioners to discuss applicability and gaps in research, as we have undertaken with an economic analysis of preventive interventions. The overall goal is to produce or stimulate collective insights that will light the way as to how to proceed. 

Learn about public policies and their effects on health
Generate and use knowledge about healthy public policies
Identify models and actors for intersectoral collaboration
Influence the development of healthy public policies 

Note 1
Bastian, H., et al. 2010: PLoS Med 7(9): e1000326. doi:10.1371/ journal.pmed. 1000326

Note 2
“We continue to live with these two problems—an overload of unfiltered information and lack of open access to information relevant to the well-being of patients.”
Ibid., p.1 “the Landscape”

Note 3
Published in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy .Vol 7 No 4, 2002: 239–244

Note 4
Ibid., p. 241.

Photo Credits: 
© Pedro Antonio Salaverría Calahorra 
For information about how to legally obtain these images, click here.

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Please send us a note to share your comments on our work, or to let us know about potential projects, ideas, interests, or new resources relating to healthy public policy.

The production of the NCCHPP website has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada.