Table 1

Summary of the definitions of explanatory models to evidence use

Instrumental evidence use describes the production and use of evidence in a linear process. This type of evidence use assumes the most rational approach.63 Scientific evidence is assumed to be instructive to the decision such that the impact is concrete and visible.64 Evidence use falls under the instrumental use category, when decisions are based on evaluation results.63
  • Evidence leads policy and decision-making.

  • New technologies or innovations that result from scientific evidence are adopted by decision-makers.

  • Evidence producers ‘push’ their evidence towards the decision-maker. As a result, new policies emerge.

  • Evidence aims to reduce the decision-maker’s uncertainty around a specific problem by suggesting a specific solution.64

  • Decision-makers consult evidence when needed (research antedates the problem), or evidence producers are commissioned by evidence consumers to find solutions to problems.64

  • The policy goal is predetermined.64

Evidence influences actions, but in less specific, more indirect ways. Research evidence permeates the action generation.
  • Evidence use happens incrementally, leading to changes in the status quo in light of political realities as well as other factors and sources of evidence.

  • Evidence may be used indirectly.64

  • An advancement of the enlightenment model, giving rise to disorderly interconnections, networks and relationships among stakeholders to enable the understanding of different paradigms and viewpoints.

  • Continuous back-and-forth among stakeholders.64

  • Recognition of decision-making processes being complicated as stakeholders have different experiences with the evidence and diverging political insights, pressures and judgements.46

Evidence is used to legitimise and support existing positions of evidence users. Evidence is used as ammunition to support predetermined positions or to delay decisions strategically.
  • The evidence is not necessarily used as intended by its producer.17

  • The fact that evidence is being produced is used as a supporting argument by organisations for their responsiveness towards an issue.

  • The evidence consumer is uncontested and predetermined.65

  • Evidence is used to support the decision-maker’s standpoint.

  • Adapted from Davies et al66 and Weiss17 and complemented with accounts from later publications.

  • BOD & VIE, Burden of disease and vaccine impact estimates; GHO, Global health organization.