Original Research

Health researchers’ efforts in bridging evidence into policy and decision making in Malawi

Patrick Mapulanga
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 12, No 1 | a710 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v12i1.710 | © 2024 Patrick Mapulanga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 August 2023 | Published: 08 February 2024

About the author(s)

Patrick Mapulanga, Department of Library Services, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Lilongwe, Malawi


Background: Health research is typically disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and academic forums. However, evidence suggests limited exploration of alternative communication methods for effective knowledge dissemination.

Objectives: This study aimed to determine the extent to which policymakers in Malawi consult health researchers while translating their knowledge. This study aimed to determine the post-research endeavours of Malawian health researchers to incorporate research findings into policy and decision making.

Method: Conducted at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), this cross-sectional study employed a 5-point Likert scale survey to collect data from researchers, offering a snapshot view without indicating temporal changes or causality.

Results: Researchers rarely created suggestions, take-home messages, or actionable instructions for use by health officials. They seldom give users access to a searchable database of papers, studies, and syntheses that summarise recommendations for policymakers in the field of health. They seldom send reprints of papers from scientific publications to decision-makers. Few researchers have created summaries of articles or systematic reviews for health officials’ use.

Conclusion: Traditional channels, such as journals and conferences, dominate the dissemination of health research. However, limited evidence suggests the need for broader communication strategies. The current landscape lacks effective products and methods, urging researchers to produce accessible formats with clear, key messages to address policy questions.

Contribution: Researchers should develop research products in compelling formats by using clear key messages. The summarised evidence should answer important policy questions. Researchers should involve the media to communicate their research outputs.


health research; communication; dissemination; policy making; decision making; knowledge translation

JEL Codes

I15: Health and Economic Development; I18: Government Policy • Regulation • Public Health; I23: Higher Education • Research Institutions

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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