The bit in the middle: A synthesis of global health literature on policy formulation and adoption

David Berlan, Kent Buse, Jeremy Shiffman, Sonja Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Policy formulation and adoption are poorly understood phases of the health policy process. We conducted a narrative synthesis of 28 articles on health policy in low-and middle-income countries to provide insight on what kinds of activities take place in these phases, the actors crafting policies and the institutions in which policy making occurs. The narrative synthesis involved an inductive process to identify relevant articles, extract relevant data from text and reach new understandings. We find that actors exercising decision-making power include not just various governmental entities, but also civil society, commissioners, nongovernmental organizations and even clergy. We also find that most articles identified two or more distinct institutions in which policy formulation and adoption occurred. Finally, we identify seven distinct activities inherent in policy formulation and adoption: generation of policy alternatives, deliberation and/or consultation, advocacy of specific policy alternatives, lobbying for specific alternatives, negotiation of policy decisions, drafting or enacting policy and guidance/influence on implementation development. Health policy researchers can draw on these categories to deepen their understanding of how policy formulation and adoption unfolds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)iii23-iii34
JournalHealth policy and planning
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Policy adoption
  • Policy formulation
  • Policy process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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