Resources for evidence-informed health policymaking

Support for policymakers

PDQ-Evidence (

PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick)-Evidence facilitates rapid access to the best available evidence for decisions about health systems. It includes systematic reviews, overviews of reviews (including evidence-based policy briefs), primary studies included in systematic reviews and structured summaries of that evidence.

The aim of PDQ-Evidence is to provide rapid access to systematic reviews of health systems evidence. A unique feature of PDQ-Evidence is that it links together systematic reviews, overviews of reviews and primary studies, thus providing a highly efficient method for searching. In addition, it includes translations of the titles and abstracts of included records to facilitate searching in different languages and it is continually updated by searching multiple sources of systematic reviews and overviews of reviews.

PDQ-Evidence is not a comprehensive database of health systems research. It only includes primary studies that have been included in a systematic review.

SUPPORT Summaries (
Concise summaries of systematic reviews of the effects of health systems interventions for low- and middle-income countries.

SUPPORT Tools for evidence-informed health Policymaking (STP) (
The SUPPORT tools for policymaking were published as a series of articles in Health Research Policy and Systems in December 2009: The tools were written for people responsible for making decisions about health policies and programmes (i.e., health system managers and policymakers) and for those who support them. 

SURE Guides for Preparing and Using Evidence-Based Policy Briefs (
These guides are intended for those people responsible for preparing and supporting the use of policy briefs and ensuring that decisions about health systems are well-informed by research evidence. The guides focus specifically on these issues in the context of African health systems and the examples used are taken from policy briefs that address important problems in African countries.

To download the complete SURE Guides, click here (SURE Guides zip file)

After you download and unzip them, they can be opened in your browser by double clicking on this file: SURE Guides.html. Please note, if you are unable to view the SURE Guides in your browser, try opening them with Internet Explorer or another browser.

Rapid responses
Decision makers are sometimes faced with issues that need responses within hours or days. In these circumstances, a policy brief may not be needed, or preparing a policy brief may not be possible. Nonetheless, to ensure that their responses are well-informed, decision makers need rapid access to research evidence that has been both appraised and contextualised. This requires clarifying the question being asked, finding relevant research (ideally a systematic review), and reliably summarising and communicating the research findings.

We have developed a set of resources for preparing rapid responses to policymakers in need of research evidence. These resources include a template for rapid responses. These can be found in the SURE Guides (see above).

Decide framework for going from evidence to health system decisions (
The framework consists of relevant considerations (criteria) for making health system decisions, evidence to inform each of those considerations, and judgements in relationship to each criterion.

Improving the use of research evidence in guideline development (
A series of reviews of methods that are used in the development of guidelines prepared as background documentation for advice on ways in which WHO could improve the use of research evidence in the development of recommendations, including guidelines and policies. Available in a compiled document in English and Spanish.

Support for researchers

GRADE handbook for grading quality of evidence and strength of recommendation (
Schünemann H, Brożek J, Oxman A, editors. Version 3.2 [updated March 2009]. The GRADE Working Group, 2009. Available in GRADEpro which can be downloaded from

Design and evaluation of quality improvement intervention (
NorthStar is a tool that will help evaluators of interventions to improve the quality of healthcare. It is targeted at quality improvement researchers and healthcare professionals and managers responsible for developing, delivering and evaluating quality improvement (QI) programmes. It provides a range of information, checklists, examples and tools based on current research on how to best design and evaluate QI interventions. More information on the structure of NorthStar is provided in the Introduction. This version is updated and tailored for researchers in low- and middle-income countries.

Trial Protocol Tool ( and click on Study Conduct tab)
Software that provides training and mentoring to researchers who are interested in designing and conducting pragmatic randomized controlled trials. Available in English and Spanish. 

Clinical Trial Simulator (
Software that can simulate randomized controlled trials. With the clinical trial simulator the user can explore aspects of design, conduction and analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Trial Management Tool (
Software that provides help and resources on trial data collection and management, reporting and promoting the uptake of results of randomised controlled trials, available in English and Spanish.

Trial Funding Tool (
Software that provides help and advice to researchers looking for ways to fund their trials.  It contains advice from over 20 international trialists and researchers.