Bodies of evidence

How professional organisations in health, education and policing champion the use of research
Public health Education Policy Evidence-based policy United Kingdom
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Bodies of evidence (report) 2.1 MB

This report outlines the pioneering evidence work of UK and Irish professional bodies in health, teaching and policing. They have been championing research and evaluation in the daily work of more than one million professionals – to improve the lives of patients, pupils and the wider public.

In November 2017, we brought together 27 professional bodies at the Royal Society to sign a ‘Declaration on Evidence’, written by Jonathan Shepherd. Ranging from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, which can trace its heritage back to the Company of BarberSurgeons trade guild in 1540, to newer organisations such as the Chartered College of Teaching, which was given Privy Council approval just a few months before our event, these institutions made a public commitment that they expect their members to take full account of evidence in their daily decisions and advice (see Annex A for the full declaration text).

A year later, we invited these national institutions to tell us about the ways in which they have been upholding that commitment. The responses we received have led to this report, which we hope will be useful to all professional bodies, including those in sectors outside policing, teaching and health. Our recommendations, on page 26, are particularly aimed at those bodies, but we hope they will also be of interest to anyone involved in getting research findings implemented in practice.

Much has been done to mainstream evidence into professional practice. We should not, however, be complacent. Historically, professions have not always been open to research and new ideas. Evidence-based medicine, teaching and policing are terms that were only coined in the 1990s.

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