• critical policy analysis;
  • National Health Service (NHS) research strategy;
  • knowledge production;
  • nurse researchers

Nursing in the public sphere: health policy research in a changing world

Aims of the paper.  To identify recent trends in the academic field of health policy, setting them in the context of wider changes in the socio-political and research environments and considering their implications for nursing research.

Background.  Health policy is a well-established field of academic study and research in the United Kingdom (UK). The 1990s have seen some important intellectual developments in this field, as well as some major changes in the context of health-related research.

Design.  A selective review of the relevant literature.

Conclusions.  The Department of Health’s new Research & Development strategy can be understood as part of a wider trend, moving away from the traditional, university-based model of knowledge production towards a new one which involves other groups, such as employers, practitioners and patients. This may increase the opportunities for health care professionals in general – and nurses in particular – to influence the research agenda and to participate as researchers in the critical evaluation of health policy.