SUPPORT Tools for Evidence-Informed Health Policymaking (STP) 4: Using Research Evidence to Clarify a Problem

Lavis, J. N., Wilson, M. G., Oxman, A. D., Lewin, S., & Fretheim, A. (2009). SUPPORT Tools for evidence-informed health Policymaking (STP) 4: Using research evidence to clarify a problem. Health Research Policy and Systems, 7 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S4.

Canadian Example available Journal article En français


This tool helps users identify a problem and articulate the issue’s characteristics based on the best available evidence. Creating a searchable question to find research evidence on the issue is critical when developing a briefing note.

Steps for Using Method/Tool

The tool guides users through five questions:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. How did the problem come to attention and has this process influenced the likelihood of it being addressed?
  3. What indicators can be used or collected to establish the magnitude of the problem and to measure progress in addressing it?
  4. What comparisons can be made to establish the magnitude of the problem and to measure progress in addressing it?
  5. How can a problem be framed (or described) in a way that will motivate different groups?

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

We have provided the resources and links as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by McMaster University of any of the products, services or opinions of the external organizations, nor have the external organizations endorsed their resources and links as provided by McMaster University. McMaster University bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external sites.

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