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Commissioning and Research Toolkit

This section provides a selection of tools and guidance documents to help commissioners use the knowledge, evidence and innovation outputs derived from Research. The material aims to improve:- 

  • Commissioner decision making
  • Evidence based policy making
  • Evidence based innovation introduced at scale

Evidence informed decision making is vital in order to meet the triple aim of health care. Decision makers can be subject to conscious and unconscious bias. Decisions can be influenced by stakeholder expectations, organisational culture and other inherent factors. A study by Clarke et al (2013) found that 50% of healthcare decisions made by commissioners in the study were not based on clinical evidence, and 50% were not based on the consideration of cost-effectiveness of the various decision options.

(Clarke A, Taylor- Phillips S, Swan J, et al. Evidence-based commissioning in the English NHS: who uses which sources of evidence? A survey 2010/2011. BMJ Open 2013;3:e002714. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013- 002714)

Use the Key Documents list at the bottom of this page to browse a selection of papers and reports relating to the use of evidence in delivering innovation into the NHS. Use the Actionable Tools listing below to browse a list of selected research and innovation tools.

A Directory of actionable tools

It is well established that considerable resources are invested in health and social care research yet there is an acknowledged gap between what is known and what is acted upon (Graham et al., 2006).  This is often referred to as the evidence-practice/policy gap. One means of addressing this gap is to identify research derived products or ‘actionable tools’ that can support the work of policy makers, commissioners, practitioners, and patients.  Within the South Yorkshire CLAHRC there was experience to support this idea. For example, we know that  pen portraits developed by the Keeping Warm in Later Life projecT (KWILLT) (http://kwillt.org/index.php/pen-portraits) supported policy change at a national level in the Cold Weather Plan, and in the local commissioning of services in South Yorkshire.

This NHS England sponsored this project with the dual aim of developing a consensus definition of what is meant by the term actionable tool and using this to identify NIHR research products from across Yorkshire and Humber.

Towards a definition

The research team from Sheffield Hallam University have used two rounds of a Delphi study to develop a consensus definition of what constitutes an actionable tool. The Delphi technique is a structured process that uses a series of questionnaires or ‘rounds’ to gather information to a sample ( panel) of experts in the field in question.  After each questionnaire round the results are analysed, a new questionnaire developed and this together with summary data from the previous round is sent back to the panel.  The initial definition used within the Delphi was developed during a workshop with practitioners and knowledge mobilisation experts from across the CLAHRC YH (http://clahrc-yh.nihr.ac.uk/).

Finalised definition of an actionable tool

A research derived actionable tool is a product informed by research study findings that is intended to change the way of thinking, promote decision making or instigate action around an issue.   Actionable tools are characterised by:

  • RESEARCH KNOWLEDGE : you can recognise the research findings within the tool.
  • MEANS of COMMUNICATION:  the approach to communicating the findings shows consideration of  the target audience, and how they prefer to receive information.
  • PROMPT: the tool invites the target audience to reflect on the research findings and triggers appropriate action within the local setting.

Finding the ‘actionable tools’

The project team have undertaken a trawl of NIHR research streams within Yorkshire and Humber and, by contacting principal investigators, have identified candidate ‘actionable tools.’ These tools have then been analysed against the consensus  definition to ensure they key characteristics of research knowledge, means of communication and prompt.

This portal includes research derived actionable tools  which meet the consensus definition and therefore should be of use to  which we hope will be of use to NHS staff and others.


Small arrow Actionable tools
Click on the links below to read more on each of the tools in the database.

Addressing depression in Muslim communities

Development of a treatment manual for professionals Treatment manual and client self-help booklet supporting the use of Behavioural Activation Therapy for Muslims with...

AdEPT tool

Understanding and preventing Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies Supporting safe therapy website: ' website dedicated to improving the experience of therapy for people...

Better Services by Design

A research project run by User-centred Healthcare Design (UCHD) into better ways of designing health and social care services. Invited partners are working with UCHD to...

Electronic frailty index (eFI)

To develop and validate an electronic frailty index (eFI) that uses existing electronic health record data to identify and severity grade frailty. An EFI (Electronic Frailty...

Enhancing the effectiveness of interdisciplinary working

The impact of enhancing the effectiveness of interdisciplinary working. Interdisciplinary management tool workbook. »Open this tool  PROJECT CONTACT ...

Examining the process of undertaking LSW in health and social care

Resource pack 'Told in South Yorkshire - life story work and people with dementia'. Primarily aimed at care workers. Study examining the process of undertaking LSW in health...

Factors contributing to patient safety incidents in hospital settings

Systematic review to develop a ‘contributory factors framework’ from a synthesis of empirical work which summarises factors contributing to patient safety incidents in hospital settings. ...

Fathers in ante-natal screening for sickle cell disorders

Involving fathers in ante-natal screening for sickle cell disorders: improving informed decision making Summary of research project findings (relating to screening fathers for...

Keeping warm at home in later life

A study to develop social marketing interventions that promote engagement of older people in keeping warm behaviour and access to anti-fuel poverty services. Keeping warm at...

MALT - Mainstreaming Assisted Living Technologies

Mainstreaming Assisted Living Technologies. Various tools linked to MALT project, including telehealth implementation toolkit, quick guide website, films, and factsheets. ...

Peeing after penectomy

Men’s experiences of changes in urination after total or partial amputation of the penis as a result of penile cancer. Patient information website for men with penile...

The Theoretical Domains Framework (Michie et al.'s 2005) to develop a five stepped approach to behaviour change

Achieving Behaviour Change (ABC) for patient safety'. Used the Theoretical Domains Framework (Michie et al.'s 2005) to develop a five stepped approach to behaviour change....

The Warm Well Families

The Warm Well Families project aimed to explore factors influencing the abilities of households with children with asthma to keep warm at home in winter and access help. Warm...

Towards equitable commissioning for our multiethnic society

A mixed-methods qualitative investigation of evidence utilisation by strategic commissioners and public health managers. Various tools linked to EEiC (Evidence and Ethnicity...
Small arrow Key Documents
Click on the links below to see opportunities from the world of healthcare research.

Assessing the evaluation needs of Better Care Funds in Yorkshire & the Humber

This assessment of evaluation needs in relation to the Better Care Fund (BCF) in the Yorkshire and Humber Region has been carried out by the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research...


Other relevant documents 

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Research info graphic link

Better Care Fund Evaluation

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Five Year Forward View document link