What Constitutes “Good” Evidence for Public Health and Social Policy-making? From Hierarchies to Appropriateness

Social Epistemology 30 (5-6):665-679 (2016)

Abstract
Within public health, and increasingly other areas of social policy, there are widespread calls to increase or improve the use of evidence for policy-making. Often these calls rest on an assumption that increased evidence utilisation will be a more efficient or effective means of achieving social goals. Yet a clear elucidation of what can be considered “good evidence” for policy is rarely articulated. Many of the current discussions of best practise in the health policy sector derive from the evidence-based medicine movement, embracing the “hierarchy of evidence” that places experimental trials as pre-eminent in terms of methodological quality. However, a number of problems arise if these hierarchies are used to rank or prioritise policy relevance. Challenges in applying evidence hierarchies to policy questions arise from the fact that the EBM hierarchies rank evidence of intervention effect on a specified and limited number of outcomes. Previous authors have noted that evidence forms at the top of...
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DOI 10.1080/02691728.2016.1172365
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Philosophical Quarterly 14 (57):377-379.
Knowledge and Social Imagery.David Bloor - 1979 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):195-199.

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