What Is the Evidence That Evidence Is Used in Decisionmaking on Family Planning Policies, Programs and Practices?

Karen Hardee, Population Council
Joanne Spicehandler, Independent Consultant

Evidence-based policy and practice implies that evidence plays a significant part in decisionmaking about developing/implementing policies/practices. With ambitious global goals for family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) over the next decade, there is increased attention to implementing evidence-based programs. This paper explores the extent to which evidence informs decisionmaking, with a focus on country-level FP/RH policy, program and practice decisionmaking. This review found no consistent definition of “evidence” in FP/RH and a slowly emerging understanding in FP/RH of the role of evidence vs. other factors in policy, practice and program decisionmaking. The literature yielded a list of facilitating factors and challenges to using evidence, yet most of these come from expert opinion rather than research. Interventions to promote use of evidence and to expand evidence-based policy and practice must address this confusion over what is evidence and how to promote and ensure its use in FP/RH policies, programs and practices.

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 Presented in Session 119. The Origins of Policies Influencing Fertility, Family Planning, and Sexual Health