City Research Online

A systematic review of frameworks for the interrelationships of mental health evidence and policy in low- and middle-income countries

Votruba, N., Ziemann, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-5996-8484, Grant, J. & Thornicroft, G. (2018). A systematic review of frameworks for the interrelationships of mental health evidence and policy in low- and middle-income countries. Health Research Policy and Systems, 16, 85. doi: 10.1186/s12961-018-0357-2


Background: The interrelationships between research evidence and policy-making are complex. Different theoretical frameworks exist to explain general evidence–policy interactions. One largely unexplored element of these interrelationships is how evidence interrelates with, and influences, policy/political agenda-setting. This review aims to identify the elements and processes of theories, frameworks and models on interrelationships of research evidence and health policy-making, with a focus on actionability and agenda-setting in the context of mental health in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Methods: A systematic review of theories was conducted based on the BeHeMOTh search method, using a tested and refined search strategy. Nine electronic databases and other relevant sources were searched for peer-reviewed and grey literature. Two reviewers screened the abstracts, reviewed full-text articles, extracted data and performed quality assessments. Analysis was based on a thematic analysis. The included papers had to present an actionable theoretical framework/model on evidence and policy interrelationships, such as knowledge translation or evidence-based policy, specifically target the agenda-setting process, focus on mental health, be from LMICs and published in English.

Results: From 236 publications included in the full text analysis, no studies fully complied with our inclusion criteria. Widening the focus by leaving out ‘agenda-setting’, we included ten studies, four of which had unique conceptual frameworks focusing on mental health and LMICs but not agenda-setting. The four analysed frameworks confirmed research gaps from LMICs and mental health, and a lack of focus on agenda-setting. Frameworks and models from other health and policy areas provide interesting conceptual approaches and lessons with regards to agenda-setting.

Conclusion: Our systematic review identified frameworks on evidence and policy interrelations that differ in their elements and processes. No framework fulfilled all inclusion criteria. Four actionable frameworks are applicable to mental health and LMICs, but none specifically target agenda-setting. We have identified agenda-setting as a research theory gap in the context of mental health knowledge translation in LMICs. Frameworks from other health/policy areas could offer lessons on agenda-setting and new approaches for creating policy impact for mental health and to tackle the translational gap in LMICs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Publisher Keywords: Evidence-informed policy-making, Knowledge translation, Research impact, Policy impact, Evidence-based policy, Research evidence, Mental health, Low- and middle-income countries, Theory review
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login