What’s the point in research if nobody is listening?
Below is a 3-day time-line of events in the UK that demonstrate hypocrisy, ignorance and a disregard of empirical evidence within the UK Government.
07/03/2011: The Government demonstrates its commitment to translational research. Since the previous government there has been a push for partnerships between universities and the NHS, in order to ensure that research can inform health care and policy.
08/03/2011: A paper is published in Economic Affairs entitled “Tobacco Display Bans: A Global Failure”.
09/03/2011: The Government announces that it will be banning tobacco displays.
There are two possibilities here: a) the government does not know about the research, or b) it does not care. However, both possibilities lead to the same conclusion; that the government does not base policy decisions on empirical evidence. This might not come as a surprise; a recent article demonstrates that proposed NHS reforms are not evidence-led either. The Government also ignored evidence of the success of hospital targets in England, causing a 60% rise in hospital test delays in the space of a year.
So what does this mean to us, researchers and academics in health economics? Does it mean that we have no hope of influencing policy? Do we need to find new channels of dissemination?