Impact, advocacy and outcomes - applying the evidence base to active change

Talk Code: 
Amanda Howe
Author institutions: 
University of East Anglia

Aim and intended outcomes:

To learn  / update knowledge of core competencies of effective advocacy; consider when academic researchers need to act as advocates in their teaching, research and clinical settings; and reflect on the organisational structures where advocacy is needed by our SAPC community.

Participants will be able to apply their learning to their own research and setting, choosing topics of relevance to their needs. 


introductory slides on content and context

discussion of case scenarios based around (1) REF impact studies

(2) research funding

(3) departmental capacity building

(4) institutional change.

Feed back.

Then each will prepare a '3 minute thesis' summarising the key issues they want to address and how they will get their messages across; these will be presented in the groups, some presented to the larger group. and then all can close with further discussion on action planning for their own setting. 

Content / background:

Whether at the individual, institutional , or systems level, academics are constantly faced by situations they would like to change. Common issues for SAPC members are e.g. wanting to innovate / alter educational approaches (curricula, placements, pedagogical emphasis); secure more resources for primary care and health services research; ensure their research findings have an economic, societal and / or clinical impact; and establish stability and growth within an institution that often has many complex (and conflicting) strategic priorities.

Academics are rarely taught the skills of advocacy, but this literature is beginning to form part of leadership training in many healthcare and higher education settings. Achieving effective change relies not only on intelligent analysis and excellent knowledge of the field, but on timing, techniques of communication, and effective use of relationships and networks.

Core stages of effective advocacy usually include: choosing a strong issue or message out of the many options; testing this out on other stakeholders and defining a precise set of goals / targets; building partnerships and alliances; considering timing and opportunities where change may be possible; deciding which ‘voices’ and media to use; and a cycle of implementation, evaluation and closure. Getting access to key players and overcoming power blocks are also crucial steps, and taking the time to do this can seem challenging in an already busy academic schedule. But the opportunity to create significant academic impact and also enhance one’s own reputation and career can offset this.

Finally there is also specific evidence on how to affect institutional / organisational change which will be presented as part of the material and working exercises.

Intended audience

The workshop is relevant to all stages of academic careers, though the specific scope and challenges may vary according to setting and circumstances - the workshop will allow choice of focus.