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When best to reach out and collaborate with each of the seven workstreams of the evidence ecosystem?

Published onApr 25, 2024
When best to reach out and collaborate with each of the seven workstreams of the evidence ecosystem?
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The focus in this section is on collaboration between the different workstreams of WHO, including WHO staff at headquarters, regional and country offices as well as its collaborating centres – all key actors in the WHO evidence ecosystem.* Multisectoral and intra-organization collaboration is a key success factor for EIDM, and a facilitator of research uptake [48]. Due to the synergies that exist across disciplines, regions and units, collaboration is a cornerstone to delivering substantial progress towards the Triple Billion goals.

* While collaboration with researchers, policy-makers, nongovernment organizations, civil society, and other stakeholders is also important, it is not addressed here.


Table 3.6 Quality (risk of bias) assessment tools

Why collaborate?

The literature on collaboration and co-production of knowledge between researchers, policy-makers and civil society [48],[53],[173],[174],[175], and on teamwork and interprofessional collaboration between health-care professionals [176] suggests that collaboration has the potential to improve policy and health outcomes, as well as improve research quality and relevance. Likewise, collaboration between the different workstreams of WHO is expected to improve EIDM and population health outcomes by making better use of limited resources and available expertise and capacity. Collaboration also provides opportunities for networking and individual learning, gives colleagues the opportunity to gain new perspectives on a given challenge, and inspires intrinsic motivation [177],[178].

Principles of effective collaboration

Effective collaboration requires efficiency, mutual respect and trust, clarity, and taking responsibility [173],[176],[177],[179],[180],[181]. Collaboration is also encouraged when collaborative behaviour is modelled at the executive management level [181].

  • Efficiency: meet in person only when necessary, ensure that there is a meeting agenda and, at the end of the meeting, set action items for those involved [179].

  • Mutual respect and trust: collaboration requires mutual respect for each other and understanding of each other’s roles [176]. People need to feel safe to give and receive effective feedback [177],[179]. Trust can be built by working together over time [173].

  • Clarity: identify everybody’s priorities and agendas upfront, from which a common understanding of the purpose of, and agenda for, the collaboration can be agreed [177],[179],[181].

  • Taking responsibility: while collaboration is about equal participation, it can be helpful to elect someone to lead the collaborative project and to assign roles within the group. This encourages people to take responsibility, and avoids time being wasted on negotiating responsibilities or “protecting turf” [177],[181].

When to strategically invest in collaboration?

There are some key opportunities for collaboration between the different WHO workstreams to improve existing methods and processes, and to fill gaps in methods and tools. From Table 3.5 above, several common interests and specializations in relation to the policy/action cycle are visualized between the different workstreams. The mapping of EIDM tools (see Table A2.1 in the Annex) additionally highlights substantial gaps in available tools to support some steps in the EIDM process across the policy/action cycle. Collaborative approaches between different workstreams provide a unique opportunity to fill these gaps (Table 3.7).

For example, there are three workstreams (EIP, Guidelines, HTA) producing evidence products that include the steps: identify high-priority issue, design solutions, and design implementation. Collaboration between the workstreams could help to check for consistency in methods, share learning in the application of existing methods and processes, and make improvements in methods and processes where needed. These three workstreams may also benefit from collaboration to help countries adapt the evidence products to their country context.

Given the overlap in methods, technical knowledge and resources required, converging the different workstreams at a national level could help to optimize resources. Joining forces between workstreams at headquarters and regional offices when working with countries would also be beneficial. For instance, the development and adaptation of both guidelines and HTAs require sound technical skills and a good understanding of systematic reviews and implementation issues.

Table 3.7. Opportunities for collaboration across the policy/action cycle to improve methods and processes, and to fill gaps in methods and tools

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