How Evidence Drives Policy Change: A Study of Return on Investment in Public Health and Multi-Sector Collaborations
This study assesses the extent to which return on investment evidence is used to inform or support policymaking that has implications for public health, with a particular emphasis on multi-sector approaches. The study also identifies opportunities to strengthen the production and use of such evidence.
Investment in public health has traditionally been justified as a public good, with initiatives designed to protect health or improve health outcomes at the individual and community levels. More recently, given the constraints associated with limited resources, there are additional pressures to justify spending based on economic returns on investment.
In conducting a scan of peer-reviewed literature, online materials, and expert interviews, we assessed how ROI evidence is used in public health policymaking and identified opportunities to strengthen the production and use of such evidence, with a particular emphasis on multi-sector approaches.
This study highlights trends in the literature, and also includes expert-identified challenges to the use of ROI evidence. We conclude that ROI-related evidence could be used more in the future by:
- more clearly linking research to the needs of real-world decision-makers;
- improving access to research results (including unpublished work); and
- building the analytic capacity of users/consumers of such evidence via improved translation of research.