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Keywords:

  • dental public health;
  • policy;
  • practice;
  • research;
  • surveillance

Abstract

Objectives

To identify how to translate dental public health surveillance and broader research into policy and practice.

Methods

Via a literature review to identify both the potential uses of surveillance data and key elements in the policy making process. Then through a consideration of Australian dental public health examples to identify ways to build links between this research and policy making.

Results

The development of dental public health policy can be complex. Different notions of evidence are held by researchers and policy makers. A cultural gap divides these two groups. Translation of research into policy is more likely if an issue is moved up the policy agenda through judicial articluation of the problem with an associated policy proposal and where polictical factors are positive. If these elements exist, a policy outccome is more possible when a ‘policy window’ opens. Five ways to build the links between surveillance, research and policy and practice are to communicate across the cultural gap; be prepared for chance opportunities to transfer knowledge; undertake policy relevant research; don't abuse research evidence by making exaggerated claims; and provide timely dissemination of surveillance and research findings. Structural barriers to academics having greater engagement with policy agencies also need to be addressed.

Conclusion

Translating surveillance and broader research evidence into policy requires active management rather than expecting passive diffusion. Researchers need to understand and act on the external factors that are likely to affect the uptake of their research if they want their research to influence policy and practice.