Knowledge exchange in the Pacific: the TROPIC (Translational Research into Obesity prevention Policies for Communities) project

Mavoa, Helen, Waqa, Gade, Moodie, Marj, Kremer, Peter, McCabe, Marita, Snowdon, Wendy and Swinburn, Boyd (2012) Knowledge exchange in the Pacific: the TROPIC (Translational Research into Obesity prevention Policies for Communities) project. BMC Public Health, 12 (1). pp. 1-9.


Background: Policies targeting obesogenic environments and behaviours are critical to counter rising obesity rates
and lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Policies are likely to be most effective and enduring when
they are based on the best available evidence. Evidence-informed policy making is especially challenging in
countries with limited resources. The Pacific TROPIC (Translational Research for Obesity Prevention in Communities)
project aims to implement and evaluate a tailored knowledge-brokering approach to evidence-informed policy
making to address obesity in Fiji, a Pacific nation challenged by increasingly high rates of obesity and concomitant
Methods: The TROPIC project draws on the concept of ‘knowledge exchange’ between policy developers
(individuals; organisations) and researchers to deliver a knowledge broking programme that maps policy
environments, conducts workshops on evidence-informed policy making, supports the development of
evidence-informed policy briefs, and embeds evidence-informed policy making into organisational culture.
Recruitment of government and nongovernment organisational representatives will be based on potential to:
develop policies relevant to obesity, reach broad audiences, and commit to resourcing staff and building a culture
that supports evidence-informed policy development. Workshops will increase awareness of both obesity and
policy cycles, as well as develop participants’ skills in accessing, assessing and applying relevant evidence to policy
briefs. The knowledge-broking team will then support participants to: 1) develop evidence-informed policy briefs
that are both commensurate with national and organisational plans and also informed by evidence from the Pacific
Obesity Prevention in Communities project and elsewhere; and 2) collaborate with participating organisations to
embed evidence-informed policy making structures and processes. This knowledge broking initiative will be
evaluated via data from semi-structured interviews, a validated self-assessment tool, process diaries and outputs.
Discussion: Public health interventions have rarely targeted evidence-informed policy making structures and
processes to reduce obesity and NCDs. This study will empirically advance understanding of knowledge broking
processes to extend evidence-informed policy making skills and develop a suite of national obesity-related policies
that can potentially improve population health outcomes.

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