Introduction: Public health policy-making activities are currently split between local authority and NHS organisations. Despite an increasing body of research on evidence-based policy (EBP), few studies explore the process of policy-making. Little is known about how policies are made in a local context, or how (scientific) evidence is used. Previous research has ignored the 'human element in EBP. Social network analysis (SNA) techniques are becoming increasingly important in health policy. This paper describes an innovative study giving a fresh perspective on policy-making processes in public health.
Methods: A social network analysis of public health policy making networks in Greater Manchester based on publicly available data (documents, websites and meeting papers) and an electronic survey, asking actors to nominate those who influenced their own views, those who were powerful, and those who were a source of evidence or information.
Results and conclusions: Policy-making networks are described. Formal executive roles are loosely related to perceived influence and power. Evidence-seeking networks are less coherent, with key organisations not represented. These data indicate the importance of collaboration and good relationships between researchers and policy-makers, but few academic researchers with a direct impact on health policy were identified within the networks. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Social networks
- Social network analysis
- Public health policy
- Organisational structure