So what works in getting research used in decision-making?

We all want our work to be useful, and there have been many studies asking policy makers and other stakeholders what the barriers and facilitators are to using research.

But how confident are we that our favourite approaches actually work?  What is the science of using science knowledge? And do we know what works in getting research used in making policy ?  

We have partnered with the Wellcome Trust,  the Alliance for Useful Evidence and the EPPI-Centre at UCL to understand how research evidence can be best used in decision-making.

The study focuses on better development and use of a sound evidence base in government policy, and other decision making. It is intended to develop the evidence base for what we at the What Works Centre for Wellbeing can do to support evidence informed decision making to improve wellbeing.

→ Summary

→Full report

The study identified six types of activity used to support evidence informed decision making and looked at the evidence based that underpins them.  The study team then looked at what other social science research suggests could be promising for supporting evidence informed decision making.

reserach uptake diagram

We are reviewing our plans and theory of change as a result of this study working with the wider What Works Network some of whom are doing trials in this area.  We hope that these insights prove useful more widely and add to the evidence base in the field. 

This project included:

  • a systematic review (a review of reviews) of the field of research use by the EPPI-Centre
  • A scoping review of what the wider social science literature tells us about the mechanisms for the use of research evidence in decision-making by the EPPI-Centre
  • a summary policy report summarising the key findings with discussion and case studies by the Alliance for Useful Evidence
  • a conference to explore what approaches work in enabling the use of research by policy makers, practitioners and members of the public at Wellcome Trust on 12th April 2016

 

Expert Teams and Board Members appointed for What Works Centre for Wellbeing

The Wha8-2754esrc-logot Works Centre for Wellbein2903577 What Works Banner Stand V0_2.inddg, together with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have announced the successful bids for four research programmes to understand what really works to improve the wellbeing of people in the UK.

Over the next three years, the What Works Centre for Wellbeing will enable policy-makers, local authorities,  employers and others to use evidence of wellbeing impact in decision making and to improve people’s lives, by translating academic evaluation of wellbeing measures into easy-to-use information about effectiveness, cost and applicability.

The successful consortia are led by world-renowned academics

Professor Richard LayardProfessor Kevin DanielsProfessor Peter KindermanProfessor Christina Victor

 

 

 

Overall, the research spans twelve universities, five civil society groups, and reaches internationally through the OECD. More detailed information on the teams and the work of the evidence programmes is here

The Centre and evidence programmes have been funded by a number of partner organisations.

 Cross-Cutting Capabilities

Professor Lord Richard Layard, LSE, leads the Cross-Cutting Capabilities programme, working in collaboration with

  • London School of Economics
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Institute for Education

They are partnering with

  • Action for Happiness
  • University of Oxford
  • How to Thrive

The team will assess and develop methods of understanding how policy and practice affect wellbeing. They will look at the effect of different factors on wellbeing, analyse the impact of wellbeing on other outcomes and develop a framework for cost-effectiveness analysis with wellbeing as the measure of benefit.  They will also conduct life course analysis, looking at the how important early life is to wellbeing in later years.

Work, Learning and Wellbeing

Professor Kevin Daniels, UEA, leads the Work, Learning and Wellbeing evidence programme, a collaboration between

  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Essex

The evidence programme is focused on protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of workers, adult learners and those seeking work.

Bringing Wellbeing to Community

Prof Peter Kinderman, University of Liverpool, leads the Community Wellbeing evidence programme. His team is a collaboration of five universities including

  • Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice at the University of Liverpool
  • Sheffield University
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Durham University

They are joined by five civil society organisations including

  • New Economics Foundation
  • Locality
  • Happy City
  • Centre for Local Economic Strategies
  • Social Life Ltd

The evidence programme will focus on how community wellbeing is affected by issues such as local social networks, having a say over what happens in our community, and local living conditions.

Culture, Sport and Wellbeing

Professor Christina Victor, Brunel University London, leads the Culture, Sport and Wellbeing evidence programme, a collaboration between

  • Brunel University London
  • University of Brighton
  • London School of Economics
  • University of Winchester

They will look at the wellbeing benefits of participation in different culture and sport practices for people in a wide range of circumstances.

Board appointments

PaulLitchfieldThe Centre has recently appointed its first Board of non-executive Directors. The Chair, Dr Litchfield, is joined by:

Gregor Henderson (National Lead for Wellbeing and Mental Health at Public Health England), and Phil Sooben (Director of Policy, Resources and Communications, ESRC) will join the board for an initial period as the Centre’s major partners in delivery.

Further recruitment for board members, including specifically from areas of local government and academia are still to come. Follow this website for the latest opportunities.

BT’s Paul Litchfield appointed Chair of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing

Dr Paul Litchfield, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Wellbeing, Inclusion, Safety & Health for BT Group, has been appointed as Chair of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing.

Paul Litchfield takes over from Lord Gus O’Donnell, who has been acting as interim Chair since the Centre’s launch in October.

Lord O’Donnell said:

 I am delighted that Paul Litchfield is taking over from me as Chair of the What Works Centre on Wellbeing. Paul has shown at BT that it is possible for an employer to raise the wellbeing of their staff, which is hugely important of itself, but also leads to higher productivity. Given the long term challenges facing the UK, such as low productivity, ageing, and growing, unmet mental health challenges, the Centre could not ask for a better qualified Chairman than Paul. We worked together on the Wellbeing and Mental Health Committee of the World Economic Forum, where I realised what a fantastic global reputation Paul has in these areas. I am looking forward to supporting him as the Centre’s patron, helping to put wellbeing where it belongs at the top of the UK’s policy agenda.

Paul Litchfield said:

I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed as Chair of the new What Works for Wellbeing Centre.  There is a growing realisation that human progress cannot be measured solely on the basis of financial measures and that people’s wellbeing is a fundamental indicator of societal success.  There are many opinions on what drives wellbeing but less hard evidence for what works.  The Centre gives us the opportunity to address this deficiency and to provide decision makers with the tools to formulate more effective policy.  The UK is leading the way in this area and I am proud to be able to contribute in some small way.

Prof. Jane Elliott, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said:

 I welcome the appointment of Dr Paul Litchfield as Chair of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing. The Centre is a key part of our strategy to ensure that high quality social science research contributes to the evidence base used by policy makers and practitioners.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, where the centre is currently being hosted, added:

I am delighted that the What Works Centre for Wellbeing is continuing to develop at pace and I would like to congratulate Dr Paul Litchfield on his appointment as chair.

PHE is excited to be one of the major players in the collaboration supporting the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, the first of its kind in the world, as it will help us to better understand and deliver improved wellbeing for local people, employees and communities.

Paul Litchfield remains in his role at BT, seconded to the Centre for three days per week. The Centre’s initial evidence programmes start in June 2015.

Happy Christmas from What Works Wellbeing

Thank you for the great welcome since the announcement of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing .

In particular we want to thank all who we’ve spoken to, contributed to our pioneer case studies, fed into our ongoing consultation or follow this blog.

We are looking forward to working with you all in 2015.

Have a great winter break!

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Videos from our launch events 29th October – Part 2 Bristol

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing was announced by our interim Chair Lord Gus O’Donnell on 29th October 2014 at twoKnowleWestMediaCentre events, in London and Bristol. Here are the video of the speakers from the Bristol part of the day with sessions from:

  • Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson
  • Lord Gus O’Donnell Chair of the What Works Centre’s Development Group
  • Ed Humpherson from UK Statistics Authority
  • Liz Zeidler from Happy City Bristol
  • Dr Shona Arora Centre Director of the Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Public Health England Centre
  • Q&A from the audience at Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol

Also published to coincide with the announcement of the What Works for Wellbeing Centre on 29th October was a new dataset from ONS combining the first three years of national personal wellbeing data to enable a more robust local level analysis and the ESRC specifications for the Centre’s evidence programme.

→what can I do?

Today we have also added a new pioneer case study to the site:

Our pioneers are short case studies of real projects, real places, real people and their evaluations.

→ be one of our pioneers

Welcome and Bristol context Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson 

Wellbeing – the new currency of impact Lord Gus O’Donnell

Measuring What Matters Ed Humpherson  

Happy City – What has worked in Bristol? Liz Zeidler 

Wellbeing and local public health Dr Shona Arora

Q&A with the speakers

Videos from our launch events 29th October 2014 – Part 1 London

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing was announced by our interim Chair Lord Gus O’Donnell on 29th October 2014 at two events, in London and Bristol.  Here are the video of the speakers from the London part of the day with sessions from:

  • Lord O’Donnell chair of the centre’s development group
  • BIS Minister Jo Swinson
  • BT’s Group Director Wellbeing Dr Paul Litchfield
  • Professor Kevin Fenton from Pubilc Health England
  • Government’s National What Works Advisor Dr David Halpern
  • Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council Professor Jane Elliot

Also published for the London part of the event on the 29th was BIS research into the drivers of workplace wellbeing and its links with business performance and the ESRC specifications for the Centre’s evidence programme.

What can I do?

Announcement of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing Lord Gus O’Donnell, Chair of development group for the Centre

Employee wellbeing and productivity  Jo Swinson, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs

Wellbeing – A company approach  Dr Paul Litchfield, Group Director Wellbeing, BT  

Wellbeing and public health  Prof Kevin Fenton, National Director Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England 

What works centres  Dr David Halpern, What Works National Advisor 

Getting impact from research Prof Jane Elliott, Chief Executive Economic Social Research Council

What Works Centre for Wellbeing announced today

Lord Gus OGus‘Donnell has announced that a new ‘What Works Centre for Wellbeing’ is being set up to bring together evidence about what works to improve wellbeing and to put that evidence into the hands of those that need it to make decisions.

The establishment of an independent What Works Centre for Wellbeing builds on the ONS Measuring National Wellbeing Programme and the Commission on Wellbeing and Policy. The Centre joins a network of independent What Works Centres that are responsible for distilling and sharing the evidence to support decision making.

The Centre is a collaboration and has initial funding of over £3.5million over three years, in-kind resourcing and the support of a broad group of founding partners.  Today’s announcement is in partnership with BT, Happy City and Bristol City Council.

Also published today are:

Why What Workswhat works network logo

The What Works Initiative is based on the principle that good decision-making should be informed by the best available evidence on what works and what does not. It aims to improve public services for people and communities by ensuring that resources are focused on those things which will have the greatest positive impact.

What Works Centres are fundamentally different from standard research centres. They aim to directly support policy makers, commissioners and local practitioners by providing reliable, accessible products which communicate the likely impact of real policy initiatives, and building professional capacity to use evidence effectively.

There are now nine Independent What Works Centres, including one in Scotland and one in Wales, supported by a combination of ESRC, Government, and charitable funding.

Why Wellbeing

Fundamentally, wellbeing is about quality of life and creating the conditions for people to live better lives. The Centre will bring together the best available evidence of the practical action that can be taken to increase wellbeing.

Locally

Wellbeing is an increasing part of policy and practice across a range of sectors and is important to the Scottish and Welsh Governments and Northern Ireland Executive, as well as major funders and commissioners such as the BIG Lottery Fund and local authorities including Health and Wellbeing boards. Employers are focusing on wellbeing in the workplace and its links to productivity and engagement. There is a growing interest in the social return on investment, with evaluation, innovation and collaboration fundamental to making the most of scare resources.

This rapidly developing field has many pioneering leaders and practitioners keen to connect up, share their work, learn from others, build the evidence base and bringing together the fragmented project and pilot evaluations into a meaningful, reliable, easy to navigate source. A strong credible evidence base can support those in the wellbeing field to be able to make their case for change, support bids and business cases and focus their efforts for the biggest impact.

Nationally

The UK is regarded as one of the leading countries on wellbeing. In November 2010, David Cameron launched the Measuring National Wellbeing Programme undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Following a national debate asking people across the UK what matters most to them, ONS developed a measurement framework for wellbeing comprising 10 domains including personal wellbeing. Personal wellbeing data is now available for every local authority area across the UK.

Internationally

The OECD, WHO, the UN and the European Commission are all significantly engaged in wellbeing. A central focus of this international interest is on how societies, governments, communities and populations measure their progress, economic and social, recognising the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress.

About What Works Centres

What Works Centre is independent of government with a clear and relevant policy and delivery focus. The functions of a Centre are to:

  • Undertake systematic assessment of relevant evidence and produce a sound, accurate, clear and actionable synthesis of the global evidence base which:
    • Assesses and ranks interventions on the basis of effectiveness and cost effectiveness
    • Shows applicability
    • Shows the relative cost of interventions
    • Shows the strength of evidence on an agreed scale
  • Put the needs and interests of users and stakeholders at the heart of shaping a workplan
  • Advise those commissioning and undertaking innovative interventions and research projects to ensure that their work can be evaluated effectively
  • Publish and disseminate findings in a format that can be understood, interpreted and acted upon
  • To help produce a common currency for comparing the effectiveness of interventions
  • Identify research and capability gaps and work with partners to fill them

What next

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing is being set up by a development group of the founding partners, chaired by Lord Gus O’Donnell. The centre will be an independent body and a Chair, Board and staff for the centre will be recruited. The ESRC will commission the Centre’s evidence programmes and Public Health England are hosting the development team for the Centre until it is established.

→ what can I do?