Translating sex education evidence into policy
This PhD study examined the use of research evidence in policy development for school sex education in Scotland and explored the applicability of different models to two policy sectors in Scotland; education and health, with specific reference to SHARE (a specially designed school sex education programme. The study addressed three main research questions:
- How has school sex education policy been developed?
- How is research evidence used in school sex education policy development since devolution?
- What factors facilitate or impede the use of research evidence?
Twenty-one in-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with policy makers and researchers, and policy documents were analysed. The findings suggested that the development of sex education policy in the health and education sectors appears to have different underlying objectives. In the health sector it is designed to achieve immediate action, which requires speedy decision-making, while in the education sector it is designed to build consensus, achieved through cautious and careful decision-making. This is important because fast decision-making militates against the use of research evidence in the health sector, while prioritising consensus may overshadow the need to be evidence-based in education. Among the study's main conclusions were that different policy sectors have specific characteristics which affect how, why and when research evidence is used in policy-making. The PhD thesis was published in 2005.
Wimbush E, Harper H, Wight D, Gruer L, Lowther M, Fraser S, Gordon J. Evidence, policy and practice: developing collaborative approaches in Scotland. In: Killoran A , Swann C , Kelly M, editors Public health evidence: tackling health inequalities. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006:201-216.
Harper H. The role of research in policy development: school sex education policy in Scotland since devolution [PhD], MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit 2005.open access
Wimbush E, Harper H, Wight D, Gruer L, Lowther M, Fraser S, Gordon J. Evidence, policy and practice: developing collaborative approaches in Scotland. Evidence & Policy 2005;1:391-407