Workbook on contextualizing guidance supports localized, evidence-based policy development

Looking for a tool to apply recommendations from a guidance document to your context? A newly released workbook on "Contextualizing health-systems guidance" outlines how to adapt guidance recommendations for developing local policy recommendations or decisions about health-system arrangements and implementation strategies. Developed in concert with the World Health Organization and authored by the McMaster Health Forum’s Elizabeth Alvarez and John N. Lavis, this tool is appropriate for use on any health-system topic. The workbook includes:

  • overview of the steps for contextualizing health systems guidance
  • examples of how the steps can be applied
  • worksheets for applying the steps

"This workbook can help policymakers and stakeholders apply recommendations from a global guidance document to address an issue/problem in their local context,“ says Elizabeth Alvarez.

The workbook includes a narrative of how to use the tool and provides questions for the users to consider in developing national or subnational guidance or policy informed by global guidance. The workbook also provides prompts for what type(s) of evidence (e.g., systematic reviews, local studies, administrative data, etc.) could be looked at to help answer the questions. The worksheets, which summarize this information, help users navigate through each section. Generally, each step utilizes broad health system or political system questions, prompts for the use of research evidence (where applicable), and ends with a summary of findings to highlight key messages from that section.  

While it is recommended that guidance developers include a tailored workbook to help contextualize their particular topic, this workbook is developed to be generic enough for any health system issue. 

>> Download the Contextualizing health-systems guidance workbook (PDF).

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated and can be sent by email to Elizabeth Alvarez (