Ensuring health policies are informed by evidence still remains a challenge despite efforts devoted to this aim. Several tools and approaches aimed at fostering evidence-informed policy-making (EIPM) have been developed, yet there is a lack of availability of indicators specifically devoted to assess and support EIPM. The present study aims to overcome this by building a set of measurable indicators for EIPM intended to infer if and to what extent health-related policies are, or are expected to be, evidence-informed for the purposes of policy planning as well as formative and summative evaluations.
The indicators for EIPM were developed and validated at international level by means of a two-round internet-based Delphi study conducted within the European project ‘REsearch into POlicy to enhance Physical Activity’ (REPOPA). A total of 82 researchers and policy-makers from the six European countries (Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, the United Kingdom) involved in the project and international organisations were asked to evaluate the relevance and feasibility of an initial set of 23 indicators developed by REPOPA researchers on the basis of literature and knowledge gathered from the previous phases of the project, and to propose new indicators.
The first Delphi round led to the validation of 14 initial indicators and to the development of 8 additional indicators based on panellists’ suggestions; the second round led to the validation of a further 11 indicators, including 6 proposed by panellists, and to the rejection of 6 indicators. A total of 25 indicators were validated, covering EIPM issues related to human resources, documentation, participation and monitoring, and stressing different levels of knowledge exchange and involvement of researchers and other stakeholders in policy development and evaluation.
The study overcame the lack of availability of indicators to assess if and to what extent policies are realised in an evidence-informed manner thanks to the active contribution of researchers and policy-makers. These indicators are intended to become a shared resource usable by policy-makers, researchers and other stakeholders, with a crucial impact on fostering the development of policies informed by evidence.