Evidence Request Bank development

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Research on Families and Relationships

Abstract

This one-year feasibility study will explore and establish an Evidence Request Bank to produce and share appraised summaries of evidence for the voluntary and public sectors, in direct response to their practice needs. This fills a gap - opening up the evidence base for delivering public and voluntary services, particularly around early years, social care and other areas of potential preventative work. It creates a channel for partnership development and shared service development.

The evidence bank will respond to requests for reviews of evidence from practitioners or policy-makers in the partner organisations. The process for evidence requests will be:

1) Partner service practitioners or managers develop a request for evidence: this is refined in discussion with the project manager to ensure that it is a clear researchable question

2) A research strategy for the request will be developed and discussed

3) Evidence will be appraised and selected

4) An evidence response report will be drafted

5) The report will be sent for peer review by both academic and research-user reviewers to ensure:
a. The quality and appropriateness of the evidence report
b. The coverage of relevant literature and ensuring there are no gaps
c. That the report is in plain language and addresses the needs of a practitioner and manager audience

6) The report will be given to the research-user who requested it, and a plan for its use will be developed with the organisation

7) The report will be lodged in a public Evidence Bank allowing further access from interested practitioners.

8) The report will be discussed by the project management team to ensure wider learning and to plan further dissemination to relevant audiences

The project builds on piloting work carried out as part of a Big Lottery funded knowledge exchange project which has developed the concept of the Evidence Request Bank with a consortium of voluntary agencies, conducted 6 reviews and evaluated the uses of the reviews with the practitioners involved. In the pilot, evidence requests have led to increased funding for services, informed service developments, informed policy-related work, contributed to the production of resources, and been used to share learning from research amongst staff. 100% of pilot participants reported that they would like to use such a service in the future.

This application would enable the Evidence Request Bank to widen its scope to include users from both statutory and voluntary organisations. This is in response to requests from these partners to develop the model. Over the year of this funding phase a business model for the project would be developed to ensure sustainability beyond the ESRC funding.

Planned Impact

As a knowledge exchange project, the needs of non-academic partners are central to the whole approach. The project will be of immediate benefit to the main partners and to a wider group of potential stakeholders who share similar interests and concerns about developing services. Ultimately it will benefit the services users and wider publics through increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy and by enhancing quality of life, and health through the development of practice.

West Lothian Council (WLC) staff working within the areas of violence against women, equalities, child protection, and early interventions with children and families within WLC will be directly included in the project.

Parenting across Scotland (PAS) is a partnership of charities which offers support to thousands of parents and children in Scotland. Both PAS and partner agencies will benefit from the evidence bank as described above, and PAS will provide a link between the project and relevant policy-makers in the Scottish Government. Ultimate beneficiaries through the PAS partnership are parents and children using partner services.

Children in Scotland (CiS) is the national agency and united voice of over 400 voluntary, statutory and professional organisations and individuals working with children and their families in Scotland. CiS staff and members will benefit from the project. Ultimate beneficiaries through the CiS channel will be children and their families who use the statutory and voluntary sector services provided by CiS members.

Academic beneficiaries: The project will also benefit academics and PhD students interested in developing skills for working with and communicating to non-academic partners. In particular PhD students engaged with the project will develop skills in the selection, review and apprising of evidence and in writing in plain language for a mixed audience. They will gain insight into the concerns of those delivering and developing service which may enhance their ability to develop relevant research in their future careers.

Partners and wider groups who share similar interests will benefit through:
1) Appraised reviews of relevant and reliable evidence to
* inform service planning, practitioner knowledge and funding bids
* strengthen services
* increase collaboration and improve efficiency
* support services to respond to public sector change
2) Practical access to and confidence in use of research, the benefits of an evidence-based approach, and how this relates to practice
3) Improved capacity for assessing quality of evidence
4) Opportunities to share research-based knowledge and use this as a starting point for collaboration, partnership and development of services with other public sector and third sector colleagues also in the "Bank"

Ultimately the development of services and practice based on a clear appraisal of the evidence can contribute to the development of new services that respond to the needs of service users, improved and evidence-based practices. These contribute to increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy; and to enhancing quality of life, and health of relevant service users.

The impact of the project will be evaluated through an overarching impact assessment using a Research Contribution Framework developed by Morton (2012) and utilized in a number of other projects by CRFR. This framework will be used to help develop, plan and evaluate the programme, ensuring its effectiveness.
 
Description Understanding and having timely access to reliable evidence of what might work is essential to the delivery of services in the public and voluntary sectors. Working with our partners who deliver services and policies for the children and families sector we developed and piloted a model for delivering evidence to practitioners and policy makers.

In developing the model, a range of issues were considered including: whether the evidence met the needs of the requester; value for money and affordability; desirable features and products; tools and processes; timescales and Evidence Bank capacity and planning regarding supply/demand. A process for reviewing and presenting evidence was developed to support evidence users to identify gaps in knowledge, to present reliable and relevant evidence to address those gaps in ways are accessible and link evidence to action, and to support evidence users to consider how they can use and share evidence.

In piloting, we found that partners valued support to identify what they wanted to know and to develop the processes and tools needed to implement evidence change; clear communications and open discussion at all stages of producing an evidence review fostered shared understanding, managed expectations over what the evidence does and doesn't say, and helped ensure reports addressed the knowledge gaps; and discussing how to use evidence helped to integrate thinking within teams and direct resources effectively.

In addition, involving external reviewers increased their understanding of how to present information for third and public sectors. Involving doctoral students in the process and training to write evidence reports helped them realise the complexity of evidence user's environments.
Exploitation Route The four partner organisations are all continuing to use the evidence delivered under this project. West Lothian Council and The Scottish Government are using the review on transitions between nursery and primary school to inform their work with the Early Years Collaborative. Parenting Across Scotland are using the demographic report on families to develop services. Children in Scotland are using both reports to develop and deliver their training programme. CRFR is using learning from the pilot, and models and tools developed, to inform further development of the Evidence Bank with What Works Scotland and by doing so is producing further action-focussed evidence resources for public sector services.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.crfr.ac.uk/projects/current-projects/erb
 
Description This project delivered synthesised evidence to three partners who have used it extensively to: 1) develop support for transition to primary school in a local authority 2) Develop training for the children's workforce 3) Inform voluntary sector organisations about the changing nature of family life and implications for services. The evidence review on transition to primary school was used by staff at West Lothian Council to create a driver diagram demonstrating successful transition. The driver diagram was used with nursery and primary school staff to identify ways they could improve transitions (through tests of change). This work has been shared and discussed throughout the council to reinforce the value of evidence-based practice, it has helped to improve the culture around evidence-informed practice with practitioners working around transitions by demonstrating how evidence can help them to do their work. This example has also informed others via the Scottish Government Early Years Collaborative. The evidence review of trends and statistics of family households has been used by PAS as the basis for the engagement event reported elsewhere; to update and inform the PAS website, specific reports (e.g. on work-life balance), and development and planning activities; to raise awareness around the evidence and inter-related issues across third and public sector children and families organisations through PAS members and networks (including through presentations and discussion events); highlight where gaps in data exist to support third sector organisations to identify areas for innovation and funding proposals; specific data was shared with Scottish Government strategy leads and the Childcare Commission. The evidence report was also used by other partners to inform consultation responses and evidence to parliamentary committees (CIS); and to produce an infographic which was shared widely with policy colleagues to consider in their planning and development of policy (Scottish Government). Both evidence reviews have been used to develop training for the children's sector workforce. CRFR has taken learning from the pilot into its knowledge exchange work: as outlined elsewhere, funding has been secured to further develop the Evidence Bank through the ESRC funded programme What Works Scotland on which Morton is a Co-Investigator; ways of presenting evidence in actionable formats developed by the Evidence Bank are being delivered through What Works Scotland; CRFR's training programme on communicating for knowledge exchange has been further developed and is being delivered to CRFR staff and students, and we are pursuing opportunities to deliver this training across the School of Social and Political Sciences. With What Works Scotland, a half day seminar was held in April 2015 for public and voluntary sector organisations - 'Using evidence to develop public services'. The seminar explored the issues and challenges of using different kinds of evidence to inform action. It provided an opportunity to think about how to use evidence, and give some concrete examples of how others(including Evidence Bank partners) have successfully applied evidence to their work.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Transitions from nursery to primary
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact Staff at West Lothian Council created a driver diagram demonstrating successful transition from nursery to primary school based on the evidence review. The driver diagram was used with nursery and primary school staff to identify ways they could improve transitions. This has been shared through the council to reinforce the value of evidence-based practice and has also informed others via the Scottish Government Early Years Collaborative.
 
Description Contract with West Lothian Council
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation West Lothian Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2014 
End 07/2015
 
Title Evidence review for knowledge exchange 
Description A robust approach to reviewing evidence with an action focus, including peer review 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact see other sections for how the evidence reviews, produced using the action-focussed evidence review process developed during this project, were used by partners and the impacts achieved. 
 
Description Evidence to Action Project One: Evidence Review Shared Project (WWS/HS/HIS) 
Organisation NHS Health Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Using existing evidence is an important part of evidence-based action and key to public service reform. Heath Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and CRFR/WWS have developed different methods for synthesising evidence. HS and HIS methods come from the health sector systematic review field. CRFR's methods (that have been brought into WWS) come from working with professionals in the children and families sector and focus on using evidence for action, which could be useful for HIS and HS moving into health and social care issues. Aims HIS/HS and WWS will explore and consider ways of developing their respective evidence review processes, with a view to providing appraised, accessible and action-oriented evidence reviews for health and social care professionals. Topic: What are the most effective methods available to ensure the coordination of palliative care that are applicable to Scotland? Phase One- Defining the review topic and identifying a review customer Phase Two: scoping review- underway Phase Three: review production Phase Four: Link to decision-making Phase Five: Learning and reflection
Collaborator Contribution Partners are carrying out the evidence review, embedding new methods of review into their way of working, and meeting with the evidence review client.
Impact New templates for review requests, scoping and writing systematic reviews
Start Year 2016
 
Description Evidence to Action Project One: Evidence Review Shared Project (WWS/HS/HIS) 
Organisation NHS Scotland
Department Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Using existing evidence is an important part of evidence-based action and key to public service reform. Heath Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and CRFR/WWS have developed different methods for synthesising evidence. HS and HIS methods come from the health sector systematic review field. CRFR's methods (that have been brought into WWS) come from working with professionals in the children and families sector and focus on using evidence for action, which could be useful for HIS and HS moving into health and social care issues. Aims HIS/HS and WWS will explore and consider ways of developing their respective evidence review processes, with a view to providing appraised, accessible and action-oriented evidence reviews for health and social care professionals. Topic: What are the most effective methods available to ensure the coordination of palliative care that are applicable to Scotland? Phase One- Defining the review topic and identifying a review customer Phase Two: scoping review- underway Phase Three: review production Phase Four: Link to decision-making Phase Five: Learning and reflection
Collaborator Contribution Partners are carrying out the evidence review, embedding new methods of review into their way of working, and meeting with the evidence review client.
Impact New templates for review requests, scoping and writing systematic reviews
Start Year 2016
 
Description Main partners on ERB 
Organisation Children in Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We reviewed the evidence in response to requests from the partners, producing accessible appraised reports. We supported partners to identify their gaps in knowledge round evidence, and to consider how the evidence review produced to address those gaps could be used to develop services for families and improve outcomes.
Collaborator Contribution Staff time and events costs
Impact Outputs: Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Full Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Summary Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Transition to primary school. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (2015) Knowledge Exchange poster: Supporting Research Use http://www.crfr.ac.uk/assets/KE-posters.pdf PAS seminar: Family Households What Works Scotland seminar: Using evidence to inform public services Outcomes: Improved transitions from nursery to primary school in West Lothian Better access to current data on families to improve services for members of Parenting Across Scotland Improved training of the early years workforce for Children in Scotland Better access to examples of evidence informed service planning: West Lothian example has been shared widely through the local authority and Scottish Government Continued work between CRFR and West Lothian Council http://www.crfr.ac.uk/projects/current-projects/west-lothian-early-intervention-programme-evaluation/
Start Year 2013
 
Description Main partners on ERB 
Organisation Government of Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We reviewed the evidence in response to requests from the partners, producing accessible appraised reports. We supported partners to identify their gaps in knowledge round evidence, and to consider how the evidence review produced to address those gaps could be used to develop services for families and improve outcomes.
Collaborator Contribution Staff time and events costs
Impact Outputs: Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Full Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Summary Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Transition to primary school. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (2015) Knowledge Exchange poster: Supporting Research Use http://www.crfr.ac.uk/assets/KE-posters.pdf PAS seminar: Family Households What Works Scotland seminar: Using evidence to inform public services Outcomes: Improved transitions from nursery to primary school in West Lothian Better access to current data on families to improve services for members of Parenting Across Scotland Improved training of the early years workforce for Children in Scotland Better access to examples of evidence informed service planning: West Lothian example has been shared widely through the local authority and Scottish Government Continued work between CRFR and West Lothian Council http://www.crfr.ac.uk/projects/current-projects/west-lothian-early-intervention-programme-evaluation/
Start Year 2013
 
Description Main partners on ERB 
Organisation Parenting Across Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We reviewed the evidence in response to requests from the partners, producing accessible appraised reports. We supported partners to identify their gaps in knowledge round evidence, and to consider how the evidence review produced to address those gaps could be used to develop services for families and improve outcomes.
Collaborator Contribution Staff time and events costs
Impact Outputs: Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Full Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Summary Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Transition to primary school. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (2015) Knowledge Exchange poster: Supporting Research Use http://www.crfr.ac.uk/assets/KE-posters.pdf PAS seminar: Family Households What Works Scotland seminar: Using evidence to inform public services Outcomes: Improved transitions from nursery to primary school in West Lothian Better access to current data on families to improve services for members of Parenting Across Scotland Improved training of the early years workforce for Children in Scotland Better access to examples of evidence informed service planning: West Lothian example has been shared widely through the local authority and Scottish Government Continued work between CRFR and West Lothian Council http://www.crfr.ac.uk/projects/current-projects/west-lothian-early-intervention-programme-evaluation/
Start Year 2013
 
Description Main partners on ERB 
Organisation West Lothian Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We reviewed the evidence in response to requests from the partners, producing accessible appraised reports. We supported partners to identify their gaps in knowledge round evidence, and to consider how the evidence review produced to address those gaps could be used to develop services for families and improve outcomes.
Collaborator Contribution Staff time and events costs
Impact Outputs: Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Full Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Family Households: How have family households in Scotland changed over 2001-2011?Summary Report. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Evidence Request Bank (2014) Evidence Response: Transition to primary school. Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Edinburgh Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (2015) Knowledge Exchange poster: Supporting Research Use http://www.crfr.ac.uk/assets/KE-posters.pdf PAS seminar: Family Households What Works Scotland seminar: Using evidence to inform public services Outcomes: Improved transitions from nursery to primary school in West Lothian Better access to current data on families to improve services for members of Parenting Across Scotland Improved training of the early years workforce for Children in Scotland Better access to examples of evidence informed service planning: West Lothian example has been shared widely through the local authority and Scottish Government Continued work between CRFR and West Lothian Council http://www.crfr.ac.uk/projects/current-projects/west-lothian-early-intervention-programme-evaluation/
Start Year 2013
 
Description Using evidence in strategic development: Child Poverty 
Organisation South Ayrshire Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution What Works Scotland's Evidence to Action workstream is working with South Ayrshire Council to support evidence-informed decision making in the areas of early intervention and prevention. The project will focus on child poverty and address: 1. What are the causes of child poverty and what early trigger signs can indicate risk of poverty? 2. During pregnancy and in the early years and primary school years: a. What factors can mitigate the effects of child poverty? b. What factors can prevent child poverty? We have conducted a literature review and presented it to the Early Intervention and Prevention Working Group of South Ayrshire Council (SAC)
Collaborator Contribution SAC worked with us to define the topic, reviewed the literature review, and are co-hosting a learning event for local partners.
Impact Actions to Prevent and Mitigate Child Poverty in South Ayrshire Communuty Planning partnership: literature review
Start Year 2016
 
Description Market Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Market research was conducted to explore the knowledge needs of the children and families workforce, how an evidence service could meet those needs, and to publicise the ERB project (reaching over 10,000 practitioners and managers).
Project staff explored issues around knowledge exchange and evidence use with other knowledge brokers (IRISS, EPPI Centre and NHS Health Scotland evidence into action team), leading to sharing sessions and informal networks.


We understood the demand for an evidence service, what features were seen as useful and affordable, and were able to develop the project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Training 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Children in Scotland used the evidence (and continue to do so) to improve their training programme

Children and young people practitioners informed with latest evidence
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.childreninscotland.org.uk/training-and-events