Evaluation of the international forum on evidence informed health policymaking: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 27 to 31 August 2012
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BACKGROUND: Meetings and conferences are often used as a tool to disseminate information, network with colleagues, and/or set direction for a field of study, but there is little evidence to support whether such events achieve their objectives. This study evaluates the International Forum on Evidence Informed Health Policymaking (EIHP), a three-day meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2012, to determine the success of the meeting based on pre-determined objectives. METHODS: The evaluation strategy was developed based on a previously published conference evaluation framework and operationalized as an end-of-conference participant survey that incorporated both process (programme/organization) and outcome measures (potential changes in behaviour). RESULTS: Sixty seven of approximately 121 attendees filled out a questionnaire (a 55% response rate) and, overall, participants rated the programme components and plenary sessions very highly. The top three benefits reported by participants were: i) sharing experiences and lessons learned (75%); ii) new opportunities for future collaboration (69%); and iii) new knowledge (67%). Conversely, only 25% or less of meeting participants reported an intent to utilize any of the potential benefits highlighted in the questionnaire, with the notable exception of pursuing new opportunities for future collaboration. CONCLUSIONS: The evaluation findings suggest that the International Forum achieved its objectives of sharing experiences with EIHP and providing opportunities for networking among EIHP initiatives, although there are limited prospects for direct improvements to efforts to support EIHP.