Background: Policy makers in public health are often interested in broad questions such as “what are effective interventions for promoting mental health?” Although well-developed for narrowly-focused questions, the methods of systematic reviews and meta-analyses are inappropriate for broad questions. Thus, we have chosen the method of evidence mapping to support an evidence-informed decision-making process.
Objectives: This presentation will describe the methodological challenges and solutions with developing an evidence map and integrating it into evidence-informed decision-making process.
Methods: We started by calibrating the answerable questions on the basis of a scoping review, which resulted in the formulation of a searchable question. Based on the final search strategy, we identified 6368 potentially relevant studies. After the exclusion of duplicates, dually-reviewed abstracts and full-texts, 94 studies remained for data extraction. Through coordinating with the client, we decided which data are relevant for decision-making. Then we grouped the identified interventions into categories and reported relevant data for each category (e.g. kind of intervention, study design, number of participants, outcomes). In an evidence to decision-making workshop, the client selected promising categories of interventions. For these selected interventions, we extracted further data relevant for choosing and implementing effective mental health promoting interventions.
Results: We identified a promising body of evidence for decision-making (more than half of the studies are RCTs).
Conclusions: Building the evidence map for positive mental health interventions and integrating it into an evidence-informed decision-making process was demanding. As evidence maps aim to give an overview of a broad area of interventions and outcomes, there was an overwhelming amount of literature to deal with. To use resources effectively and develop a useful body of evidence, we recommend close involvement of the client at the critical steps of the evidence mapping process, mainly to define and clarify both terminology and criteria for study selection and implementation.