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Health Systems Evidence


Why use it and who's behind it?

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Health Systems Evidence is a continuously updated repository of syntheses of research evidence about governance, financial and delivery arrangements within health systems, and about implementation strategies that can support change in health systems. The types of syntheses include evidence briefs for policy, overviews of systematic reviews, systematic reviews, systematic reviews in progress (i.e. protocols for systematic reviews), and systematic reviews being planned (i.e. registered titles for systematic reviews). Health Systems Evidence also contains a continuously updated repository of economic evaluations in these same domains, descriptions of health system reforms (with links to syntheses and economic evaluations when possible), and descriptions of health systems (to assist with assessments of the local applicability of research evidence and of how reforms are embedded within health systems). For all types of documents, Health Systems Evidence provides links to user-friendly summaries, scientific abstracts, and full-text reports (if applicable and when freely available). For each systematic review, Health Systems Evidence also provides links to the studies contained in the review.

Health Systems Evidence has been endorsed by a diverse range of organizations interested in evidence-informed decision-making. For example:

  • WHO’s Evidence Informed Policy Networks (EVIPNet) integrated HSE into the EVIPNet Virtual Health Library.
  • The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Advisory Group on Health Systems Research Synthesis singled out HSE as the key resource for a broad array of research evidence about health systems.
  • Vox (a web-based media company focused on interpreting, rather than just reporting on, the news) promoted HSE as one of six ‘best evidence’ databases, and the only one focused on health systems.
  • The American University of Beirut’s Knowledge to Policy Center for Health (K2P Center) and its Center for Systematic Reviews on Health Policy and Systems Research (SPARK) use and promote the use of HSE.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care identifies HSE as one of the few databases (and the only one focused on health systems) that should be searched to inform ministerial and cabinet submissions if they address health system issues. Other Canadian organizations also promote HSE: 1) the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is a partner in the Evidence-Informed Healthcare Renewal Portal, which is embedded in HSE; 2) the Canadian Patient Safety Institute includes HSE as a key resource for learning more about patient safety; and 3) the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation lists HSE as a valuable external knowledge resource.

Health Systems Evidence can save health system policymakers and stakeholders a great deal of time by helping them to rapidly identify: a synthesis of the best available research evidence on a given topic that has been prepared in a systematic and transparent way, how recently the search for studies was conducted, the quality of the synthesis, the countries in which the studies included in the synthesis were conducted, and the key findings from the synthesis. Health Systems Evidence can also help them to rapidly identify: economic evaluations in these same domains, descriptions of health system reforms and descriptions of health systems, both as the focus of a search and as a prompt when searching for other types of documents. For example, policymakers often want to know what reforms have been introduced in another country. If a search retrieves a reform of interest, Health Systems Evidence will now provide a prompt to read an available systematic review that addresses that type of reform (to learn about whether it has been shown to be effective, among other things), an available economic evaluation that addresses that type of reform (to learn about whether it has been shown to be cost-effective), and an available health system description (to learn about the health system where the reform was introduced).

Health Systems Evidence is an initiative of the McMaster Health Forum.

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Health Systems Evidence is supported by a collaboration between
the McMaster Health Forum and four partners:

McMaster Health Forum's Impact Lab
(which identifies and codes all syntheses about health system arrangements,
as well as all economic evaluations, descriptions of health system reforms
and descriptions of health systems)

Cochrane Canada and its Policy Liaison Office
(which supports the use of syntheses, and Health Systems Evidence in particular,
by health system policymakers and stakeholders)

Health Information Research Unit's McMaster PLUS and McMaster Search Filters
(which supports the supplementary searches offered when a search
of Health Systems Evidence does not retrieve relevant results)

Rx for Change
(which identifies and codes all systematic reviews about implementation strategies)

Collaborator Logos

The translations of Health Systems Evidence into languages other than English and French are made possible by a
collaboration between the McMaster Health Forum and five additional partners:

WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and the American University of Beirut (for Arabic)

Evidence-Based Medicine Center, Lanzhou University (for Chinese)

Pan American Health Organization (for Portuguese and Spanish)

WHO Regional Office for Europe (for Russian)

Translator Logos

Health Systems Evidence wishes to acknowledge the following sources
of documents contained in Health Systems Evidence:

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination
(a key source of systematic reviews of effects and of economic evaluations,
as well as systematic reviews being planned (i.e., titles registered in PROSPERO))

Cochrane Library
(a key source of overviews of Cochrane systematic reviews, Cochrane systematic reviews of effects,
Cochrane systematic reviews in progress (i.e., Cochrane protocols), and Cochrane systematic reviews
being planned (i.e., registered Cochrane titles), as well as systematic reviews addressing other types
of questions (as identified by the Cochrane Collaboration’s Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group))

Cochrane Qualitative Evidence Synthesis
(a key source of systematic reviews of qualitative and mixed-methods studies)

European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
(a key source of evidence briefs published by them in partnership with the Health Evidence Network,
as well as health system descriptions prepared by them)

Evidence Informed Policy Networks
(a key source of evidence briefs prepared by EVIPNet country teams)

Health Policy Monitor
(a key source of descriptions of health system reforms)

McMaster PLUS
(a key source of systematic reviews disseminated through Evidence Updates and KT+)

Paediatric Economic Database Evaluation
(a key source of pediatric economic evaluations)

Plus listservs administered by PAHO EQUIDAD, PHCRIS, Sax Institute, among others

Health Systems Evidence also wishes to acknowledge the following groups that prepare the user-friendly summaries that we provide links to:

Australasian Cochrane Centre (ACC) Policy Liaison Initiative

Database of Review of Effects (DARE)

Effective Health Care Research Programme Consortium

Evidence Aid

Health Knowledge Network of the Cochrane Consumers
and Communications Review Group (CC&CRG) Evidence Bulletins

Reproductive Health Library

Rx for Change

SUPPORT Collaboration

McMaster University McMaster Health Forum PPD Cochrane Canada McMaster PLUS Rx for Change Evidence-Based Medicine Center Pan American Health Organizatio