Evidence-based medicine meets democracy: the role of evidence-based public health guidelines in local government.
In 2013, many public health functions transferred from the National Health Service to local government in England. From 2006 NICE had produced public health guidelines based on the principles of evidence-based medicine. This study explores how the guidelines were received in the new environment in local government and related issues raised relating to the use of evidence in local authoritites.Methods
In depth, interviews with 31 elected members and officers, including Directors of Public Health, from four very different local government organizations ('local authorities').Results
Participants reported that (i) there were tensions between evidence-based, and political decision-making; (ii) there were differences in views about what constituted 'good' evidence and (iii) that organizational life is an important mediator in the way evidence is used.Conclusions
Democratic political decision-making does not necessarily naturally align with decision-making based on evidence from the international scientific literature, and local knowledge and local evidence are very important in the ways that public health decisions are made.