Why do many local governments fail to support evidence-based practice?

Author: Annika Bäck


This post was originally published by the Evidence & Policy blog on 15th September, 2021.


This blog post is based on the Evidence & Policy article, ‘Local politicians in action? The relationship between perceived prerequisites and actions of political committees responsible for social services in supporting the implementation of evidence-based practice



Basing health care and social services on the best available knowledge is a crucial policy issue in many countries to increase quality and reduce unnecessary, or even harmful, care. But as policy implementation research makes clear, what is formulated as goals at the national level is not necessarily what is implemented at local level.


Evidence-based practice is the integration of research evidence, client preferences and professional expertise in decision-making. The implementation of evidence-based practice has encountered many hurdles. Some of these challenges are related to a non-supportive organisational context with insufficient leadership support due to, for example, poor skills in providing guidance about evidence-based practice and lack of organisational resources.


Local political committees have a role to play in implementing evidence-based practice, as they affect the context for health and social service organisations, and therefore maybe enablers or barriers for implementation. Hence, they are one piece of the puzzle for successful implementation of evidence-based practice. However, little is known about the role of local political committees when it comes to implementing evidence-based practice. What actions do local political committees take to support the implementation of evidence-based practice? And how are these actions related to the committees’ capability, motivation and opportunity to support implementation? These questions are examined in our Evidence & Policy article, Local politicians in action? The relationship between perceived prerequisites and actions of political committees responsible for social services in supporting the implementation of evidence-based practice.


In this study we surveyed 181 chairs and vice-chairs of local political committees responsible for social services in Sweden. We asked them about their committee’s actions to support the implementation of evidence-based practice. In addition they assessed the committee’s capability, motivation and opportunities to support the implementation of evidence-based practice.