Politics, Policy, Science, and Evidence
The synergistic, interactional nature of the concepts politics, policy, and science can be conflictual. Understanding the definitions is pertinent to learning the relationship between each:
- Politics: process of influencing the allocation of scarce resources;
- Policy: deliberate course of action;
- Science: study, documentation, and collection of evidence pertaining to observable naturally occurring objects, processes, and phenomenon in ways that can be reproduced objectively to verify the results; and
Evidence: developed by research such as randomized controlled trials, surveys, polls, systematic reviews, meta -analysis, and data mining (Mason, Leavitt, & Chaffee, 2014, p. 307).
The US government has been involved in scientific research affecting policy since World War II. Examples of this include the National Academy of Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency. In order to avoid conflict in science and politics knowledge of critiquing research findings, maintaining scientific inquiry, translating research findings to policymaking, and using appropriate data to shape policy is necessary.
Research is beneficial to policymaking and its inherent nature because it can expose existing problems in politics that need “fixing”. It is challenging to change the mindset of policy makers through strategic agendas, but it is possible with aggressive planning initiatives for advancing nursing healthcare agendas.
Health service research or HSR focuses on research for improving healthcare systems. Data is available from a multitude of sources. Box 10.2 and Figure 10.1 (Mason et al., 2021) present an example of the process of data informing policy changes and the impact on reform. In addition, qualitative measures exist. This research data serves to inform the healthcare decision making processes for advancing health policy and improving quality care and patient safety.