McMaster Health Forum | Rapid Response
If you are a health-system leader (a policymaker or stakeholder) looking for help in answering an urgent health- or social-system question, we can provide the best available research evidence through our Rapid Response program. This program is designed to fill the gap between the ‘self-serve’ option of using Health Systems Evidence or Social Systems Evidence and the ‘full-serve’ option of requesting a stakeholder dialogue informed by a pre-circulated evidence brief (and possibly one or more citizen panels).
Our Rapid Response program provides syntheses of evidence to address requests in three-, 10- or 30-, 60- or 90-business days. The question(s) may be about one or more of any of the following steps that are part of a robust policy analysis: 1) clarifying a problem and its causes 2) framing options for addressing it; 3) identifying implementation considerations; and 4) informing monitoring and evaluation plans. Evidence syntheses are underpinned and may be complemented by systems analysis (i.e., determining how the relevant parts of a health or social system currently work and identifying options for doing things differently) and a political analysis (i.e., understanding the political factors that may affect whether and how issues move onto government agendas and policy decisions are made).
We provide in a separate table below an overview of the types of approaches we used for each of these types of analyses, and a more detailed summary of what can be done in each of these timelines in another table. In general, the longer timelines (e.g., 60- or 90-day requests) allow us to: 1) accommodate more complex questions by conducting and integrating multiple types of analysis and multiple approaches to capture evidence and insights; and 2) broaden the analysis of policy documents and/or interviews beyond the requester’s jurisdiction (e.g., to include other provinces or other countries).
|Type of analysis||Approach used to capture evidence and insights|
|Policy analysis||Synthesis of best available research evidence from systematic reviews and primary studies (e.g., benefits, harms and costs of policy options)||Identify insights from key stakeholders whose views have already been captured in grey literature reports not indexed in online databases|
|System analysis||Analysis of policy documents (e.g., legislation/regulation) and other sources (e.g., local data) that provide information and context about how key parts of a health or social system work||Identify insights from key informants about how key parts of a health or social system work and options for doing things differently|
|Political analysis||Analysis of policy documents (e.g., speeches from the throne and political party platforms) and other sources (e.g., stakeholder websites) to identify factors that may affect government agenda setting and decision-making processes||Identify insights from key informants about political factors that may affect government agenda setting and decision-making processes|
Our approach to conducting rapid syntheses is underpinned by a commitment to being systematic and transparent in identifying and synthesizing evidence and insights for health- and social-system leaders, and our experience is growing increasingly rich in terms of:
- volume of completed requests;
- focus on pressing health- and social-system issues;
- questions addressed (e.g., problems, options, implementation considerations, and monitoring and evaluation plans);
- types of evidence and insights synthesized (e.g., by drawing on systematic reviews and primary studies, as well as from policy documents and key informant interviews); and
- analytic experience and expertise in policy, system and political analysis, which allows us to go farther, faster in responding to urgent requests.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a service agreement so your organization can call on us when a rapid response is needed (or to initiate a request if your organization is covered under an existing service agreement).
To learn more about the Forum's Rapid Response program and its outputs: