Evidence-Informed Decision Making in Public Health

Synthesize: Interpret/form recommendations for practice based on the literature found

The fourth step of the Evidence-Informed Decision Making in Public Health process focuses on deciphering the ‘actionable message(s)’ from the research evidence that you have reviewed. Recommendations should be formed from the highest quality and most synthesized research evidence available. This step helps you answer the question:

“What does the research evidence tell me about the issue?”

Reading and appraising all studies retrieved from the search step can be time consuming and inefficient. Following the 6S pyramid, retrieval and appraisal should begin at the highest level of evidence (i.e., retrieving and appraising a guideline before a systematic review). If multiple systematic reviews are retrieved on the same topic or the conclusions in the reviews are conflicting, first consider the reviews with the strongest methodological quality and with the most recently completed searches. Then discern and use ‘actionable messages’ (i.e., clear recommendations or actions for practice) to inform program and policy development.

For more information about forming recommendations for practice based on research evidence, please review the Synthesize section of the Introduction to Evidence-informed Decision Making module.

EIPH Wheel - SynthesizeAdapt Implement Evaluate Define Search Appraise

Interpret information and form recommendations for practice.

We recommend these resources from the Registry of Methods and Tools to help with this step:

Briefing note templateForest Plots: Understanding a Meta-Analysis in 5 Minutes or Less