While we recommend the use of diverse sources of evidence and knowledge within the commissioning and service improvement cycle, it is important to undertake critical appraisal of all evidence sources in other to assess both their rigour and their relevance to the issue at hand.

Appraising evidence and knowledge relating to ethnicity presents a number of additional challenges over-and-above those that exist for health-related evidence more generally. Unsurprisingly, we found that many commissioners and managers lack the skills and confidence to appraise and synthesise evidence relating to ethnicity and health.

Challenges faced when using existing evidence sources include:

  • Varying understandings of what ‘ethnicity’ is
  • Use of inconsistent and often unjustified ethnic categories
  • Limited exploration of social and political dimensions of ethnicity
  • Significant evidence gaps

Other resources and links

Researching ethnic inequalities sets out some general issues related to producing evidence on ethnic inequalities. These principles can also be used to inform your assessment of available evidence.

The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme has lots of useful resources to help you make sense of evidence.

PHAST also have materials on Finding and Appraising the Evidence.

Various synthesis resources are available from Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Andrew Oxman, John Lavis and colleagues in Canada have produced a series of resources aimed at supporting more evidence-informed healthcare policymaking:

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