Local Authority Champions of Research: a mixed methods proof of concept study

Mandy Cheetham, Sam Redgate, Clare Humble, Peter van der Graaf, Ashley Adamson

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background:
The transition of public health from NHS to local government in England raises new challenges for evidence-informed policy and practice in the context of austerity. The aim of the Local Authority Champions of Research (LACoR) study is to test new methodological approaches to evidence use in local government to address public health priorities, using a whole-system approach.

Methods: This collaborative, UK-based, mixed-methods study includes a rapid review of published literature; a scoping survey of current practice in UK local authorities (LAs) supporting evidence-informed decision making; workshops held in three case study sites with LA staff (n=49); qualitative interviews with stakeholders (n=14), and learning from an embedded researcher working in local government. Participants gave written consent to take part. Workshop and fieldwork notes were written up and interview data were recorded and transcribed. Data generated were combined and analysed using thematic analysis. A prototype logic model will be shared, illustrating the current, and potential, application of research in local government. This study was approved by the Faculty of Medical Sciences Research Ethics Committee, part of Newcastle University's Research Ethics Committee.
Findings:
Results from the literature review and qualitative interviews will be presented alongside the logic model and practical examples of how a system-wide approach can promote evidence use in local government to improve population health and wellbeing. Our findings highlight a changing culture in local government, which requires a different approach from academia to take account of the multiple types of evidence used, a tendency to prioritise local data, and a desire for longer-term, collaborative relationships with academia. Greater use of co-located, embedded researchers was seen to facilitate understanding of the systems, structures, and political context of decision making in local government, drawing on the skills and expertise of LA staff. Despite pressures on capacity, there is willingness to engage in co-produced research studies that create space to work together to identify realistic evidence-informed solutions.
Interpretation:
The strength of this study is its transdisciplinary, collaborative approach, and methodological innovation. The findings have the potential to promote transformational change in both academia and local government, recognising that insights are gathered from a small number of LAs. The logic model will be tested and refined in further research. Funding The Health Foundation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S11
JournalThe Lancet
Volume394
Issue numberSupplement 2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

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