Government takes lessons from medicine to embed evidence into policies

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 14 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6164
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Randomised controlled trials have a lot to offer to public policy making, a senior Cabinet Office official told a meeting in London on 10 October.

David Halpern, director of the government’s Behavioural Insight Team, gave as an example a trial in which a variety of different approaches were compared to see which was most effective in persuading people to sign the organ donor register. The traditional appeal, a simple request saying “Please join the organ donor register” printed on a form that people could complete if they wanted to comply, was used as a control in a trial in which various other forms of words and pictures were tried in an attempt to make the message more effective.

These included versions saying that every day thousands of people joined the register, that every day three people died waiting for an organ, and that organs from a single donor could …

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