McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Canada Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Health Systems

John Lavis

Research Involves

My program of research uses the McMaster Health Forum and the units around the world that it supports as 'laboratories' to study innovations in supporting evidence-informed health systems. The research addresses two key objectives:

  • Evaluate innovative strategies that support the use of research evidence in health systems in Canada and internationally
  • Examine how context and issues influence views about, experiences with and impacts of these strategies

The research will ensure that health system policymakers and stakeholders around the world can support evidence-informed health systems in ways that are themselves based on the best available research evidence and that fit with the local context and issues being faced.

Research Relevance

The last decade has been called the 'health systems decade' as governments like those in Canadian provinces, international agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and donors like the Gates Foundation come to realize that health-system arrangements determine whether the right mix of cost-effective programs, services and drugs get to those who need them, at an acceptable cost. Synthesized high-quality research evidence can inform decisions about these health system arrangements and implementation arrangements, however, policymakers and stakeholders often do not consider this research evidence alongside the institutional constraints, interest group pressures, values and other factors that drive the policymaking process. My research program is contributing to making the coming decade the 'decade of evidence-informed health systems.

Decisions about Health Systems

Every day health system policymakers and stakeholders grapple with complex decisions about health systems. Poor decisions translate into lost lives, lower health-related quality of life and poor satisfaction with the health system among patients and their families, and wasted investments and foregone opportunities for the citizens who pay for the system. Research evidence can help policymakers and stakeholders to set agendas, take well-considered actions and communicate the rationale for actions effectively. My research program will help to create the evidence base about which strategies best support an evidence-informed health system given the particular contexts and issues policymakers and stakeholders face.

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