Improving mutual consultation among key stakeholders to optimize the use of research evidence

Community member post by Allison Metz

Alison Metz
Allison Metz (biography)

Processes to support the uptake of research evidence call for each of the key stakeholders to consider the challenges faced by other key stakeholders in making good use of research evidence. When stakeholders have the opportunity to consider perspectives other than their own, they will generally have a broader understanding of the problem space, and, in turn a greater commitment to co-creating prototypes for improving research translation.

Let’s consider a real world example in New York City’s public child welfare system. New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services operates what is believed to be the world’s largest and most diverse array of evidence-based and evidence-informed preventive programs in any municipal child welfare jurisdiction. This required – and continues to require – major changes in policies, services, program standards, staff training, business processes, and data systems. To this end, the Administration for Children’s Services, private service providers, researchers, and families must come together to co-create processes that allow for productive adaptations of evidence-based services to ensure sustainability and impact.

(Source: Metz and Bartley, 2017)

There were four key challenges to improving mutual consultation between some of the key stakeholders, specifically service providers, researchers, and policy makers:

  • Time and space to interact
  • Proactively addressing adaptive issues, rather than simply troubleshooting crises or emerging challenges
  • Ensuring everyone had a say and no person or group dominated
  • Effectively supporting the use of research evidence.

These challenges were addressed, respectively, by:

  • Increasing meeting frequency from monthly (or in some cases only as needed) to bi-weekly
  • Developing standard meeting agendas
  • Using structured facilitation techniques such as nominal group process
  • Co-developing products and processes, including desk guides, logic models and conceptual models.

A research study to assess the effectiveness of these processes found that levels of mutual consultation increased for all interactions. Specifically the study found increases in:

  • the intensity of interactions
  • formalized structures to support stakeholder communication
  • co-development of products or processes to translate research evidence.

These findings align with systematic reviews of evidence on the factors that support effective co-creation (Voorberg, Bekkers and Tummers, 2015), including a formal infrastructure for communication and the willingness of stakeholders to actively participate in communication. Feedback loops also promote iterative and cyclical improvements and modifications to evidence use, a hallmark of co-creation and co-design models.

What processes have you found to be useful?

Reference:
Voorberg, W. H., Bekkers, V. J. J. M. and Tummers, L. G. (2015). A systematic review of co-creation and co-production: Embarking on the social innovation journey. Public Management Review, 17, 9: 1333-1357.

For more information, see:
Metz, A. and Bartley, L. (2017). Co-creating the conditions to sustain the use of research evidence in public child welfare. Child Welfare, 94, 2: 115-139.

Biography: Allison Metz, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist, Director of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), and Senior Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Allison specializes in the implementation, mainstreaming, and scaling of evidence to achieve social impact for children and families in a range of human service and education areas, with an emphasis on child welfare and early childhood service contexts. Among many projects, Allison is studying how to effectively co-create the conditions to sustain the use of research evidence in public child welfare through a project funded by the William T. Grant Foundation. Allison serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Implementation Initiative. She is a principal investigator of the Co-Creative Capacity pursuit funded by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

This blog post is one of a series developed in preparation for the second meeting in January 2017 of the Co-Creative Capacity Pursuit. This pursuit is part of the theme Building Resources for Complex, Action-Oriented Team Science funded by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

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