The right kind of evidence--integrating, measuring, and making it count in health equity research

J Urban Health. 2012 Dec;89(6):925-36. doi: 10.1007/s11524-012-9738-y.


As health equity researchers, we need to produce research that is useful, policy-relevant, able to be understood and applied, and uses integrated knowledge translation (KT) approaches. The Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and its history of working with provincial government as well as regional health authorities is used as a case study of integrated KT. Whether or not health equity research "takes the day" around the decision-making table may be out of our realm, but as scientists, we need to ensure that it is around the table, and that it is understood and told in a narrative way. However, our conventional research metrics can sometimes get in the way of practicality and clear understanding. The use of relative rates, relative risks, or odds ratios can actually be detrimental to furthering political action. In the policy realm, showing the rates by socioeconomic group and trends in those rates, as well as incorporating information on absolute differences, may be better understood intuitively when discussing inequity. Health equity research matters, and it particularly matters to policy-makers and planners at the top levels of decision-making. We need to ensure that our messages are based on strong evidence, presented in ways that do not undermine the message itself, and incorporating integrated KT models to ensure rapid uptake and application in the real world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Manitoba
  • Translational Research, Biomedical