The Prevention Centre’s Synthesis Capacity aims to synthesise and make readily available what is known about the prevention of lifestyle-related conditions to support evidence-informed policy and practice.
The Capacity is developing and testing tools and methods that will help decision makers systematically combine local experience and contextual information with expert knowledge and published evidence when addressing complex problems.
The main focus is on dynamic simulation modelling, which brings together diverse evidence sources and uses a participatory approach to develop advanced computer models that can forecast the impact of various policy interventions.
The Synthesis Capacity’s work aims to support the Prevention Centre to build consensus on strategies for preventing lifestyle-related chronic disease in Australia.
- Professor Sally Redman, Sax Institute
Capacity Lead, Evidence Synthesis and Simulation for Policy
- Associate Professor Jo-An Atkinson, Prevention Centre
- Jacqueline Davison, Prevention Centre
- Louise Freebairn, Prevention Centre, ACT Health
- Dr Geoff McDonnell, Prevention Centre, Adaptive Care Systems
- Dylan Knowles, Prevention Centre, Minus Fifty Software
- Dr Ante Prodan, Prevention Centre, Western Sydney University
- Allen McLean, Prevention Centre, University of Saskatchewan
- Mark Heffernan, Prevention Centre, Dynamic Operations
- Professor Nate Osgood, Prevention Centre, University of Saskatchewan
Synthesis Capacity team members are engaged on a large number of Prevention Centre projects and related activities.
Developing and testing new methods of consensus development
The Capacity is embedding stakeholder engagement and consensus building methods in the development and use of dynamic simulation models to support policy decisions and align stakeholder actions to address complex problems. For example, it will adapt existing deliberative methods by using dynamic simulation models and their outputs to facilitate policy dialogues through support of informed debate around the quantitative trade-offs between alternative solutions, and help build consensus on a course of action.
Developing concise policy briefs
The Capacity is collaborating with the Sax Institute Knowledge Exchange Division and CIPHER (the Centre for Informing Policy in Health with Evidence from Research) to develop policy brief options and recommendations for prevention policy settings. The project will compare and evaluate policy brief formats, and develop and implement professional development and training on knowledge exchange for early career researchers.
A rapid scan of projects and programs related to chronic disease prevention
The scan aimed to identify current or recently completed activities that may be relevant and/or complementary to the Prevention Centre’s work. The scan focused on the following categories of information in the areas of diet, physical activity, alcohol and tobacco:
- Current research or evaluation projects
- Evidence reviews/syntheses
- Policies and program initiatives
- Examples of the application of systems-based approaches.
This information was compiled through interviews with the Centre’s lead investigators and funding partners.
The information gathered through the Activity Scan is not intended to be exhaustive and the Prevention Centre has not appraised or endorsed the initiatives. However, the scan offers a valuable overview of some relevant and interesting projects in chronic disease prevention, and identifies opportunities for the Prevention Centre to build on existing work and explore new collaborations.
The summary of the results of the activity scan is here.
The Capacity coordinates evidence reviews, which to date have included a review of the benefits of healthy eating and active living programs, rapid reviews of evidence for the prevention of type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and a systematic review of applications of systems mapping and dynamic modelling to inform health policy. These reviews will be posted here as they are finalised.
- Atkinson J, O’Donnell E, Wiggers J, McDonnell G, Mitchell J, Freebairn L, Indig D, Rychetnik L. Dynamic simulation modelling of policy responses to reduce alcohol-related harms: rationale and procedure for a participatory approach. Public Health Res Pract. 2017;27(1):e2711707
- Atkinson J, Page A, Wells R, Milat A, Wilson A. A modelling tool for policy analysis to support the design of efficient and effective policy responses for complex public health problems. Implementation Science. 2015 10:26 DOI 10.1186/s13012-015-0221-5.
- Atkinson JM, Wells R, Page A, Dominello A, Haines M, Wilson A. Applications of system dynamics modelling to support health policy. Public Health Res Pract. 2015;25(3):e2531531
- Freebairn L, Atkinson J, Kelly P, McDonnell G, Rychetnik L. Simulation modelling as a tool for knowledge mobilisation in health policy settings: a case study protocol Health Res Policy Syst 2016;14:71 doi: 10.1186/s12961-016-0143-y
- Freebairn L, Rychetnik L, Atkinson J, Kelly P, McDonnell G, Roberts N, Whittall C, Redman S. Knowledge mobilisation for policy development: implementing systems approaches through participatory dynamic simulation modelling. Health Res Policy Syst. 2017;15:83 doi: 10.1186/s12961-017-0245-1
- O’Donnell E, Atkinson JA, Freebairn L, Rychetnik L. Participatory simulation modelling to inform public health policy and practice: Rethinking the evidence hierarchies. J Public Health Policy. 2017;May;38(2):203–215. doi: 10.1057/s41271-016-0061-9.
- Roberts N, Li V, Atkinson J, Heffernan M, McDonnell G, Prodan A, Freebairn L, Lloyd B, Nieuwenhuizen S, Mitchell J, Lung T, Wiggers J. Can the Target Set for Reducing Childhood Overweight and Obesity Be Met? A System Dynamics Modelling Study in New South Wales, Australia. Syst Res Behav Sci. doi: 10.1002/sres.2555
- Knowledge synthesis and policy dialogue discussion paper (PDF, 113KB)
- Prevention Centre synthesis and communication outputs (PDF, 113KB)
- Summary of results of the Activity Scan summary (PDF, 600KB).
- Dr Jo-An Atkinson. Poster presented at the 3rd Annual NHMRC Research Translation Faculty Symposium, Melbourne, November 2014. Seven steps to targeted policy for complex public health problems (PDF, 1MB)
- Associate Professor Lucie Rychetnik’s presentation to Prevention Centre’s Investigators’ Forum 2014.
The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre Activity Scan (PDF, 214KB)
The Mandarin, November 2016: Introducing NSW liquor controls state-wide could reduce acute alcohol harms by 20%
Prevention Centre News