Influencing Policy Through Generation of Research, Application of Knowledge and the Use of Social Networks
Benton, David C.
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Opening plenary presented on Thursday, 21, July 2016.This paper will start by reviewing a number of recent publications that provide significant opportunities for the nursing profession to conduct new research and influence global, regional and national health policy. In particular the content of the recently released sustainable development goals document, the new 2016-2030 strategy for human resources for health and the 2016-2020 strengthening nursing and midwifery strategy will be examined so as to identify research and policy opportunities for the profession. At a time when intergovernmental agencies such as the World Health Organisation, World Bank and other bodies are becoming more reliant on research to inform policy direction nursing must not only generate and apply knowledge but actively contribute to the policy debate. Having identified these opportunities that these new global documents offer the paper will then examine what is already known about the way nurses influence policy and politics. Findings from a recently completed integrative review will be shared and in particular it will be argued that the time has now come from the profession to revise the competencies required at baccalaureate, maters and doctoral levels in relation to how we as a profession influence policy and politics. It will identify that in particular the need to equip nurses with the ability to map and use social networks as a means of influencing policy and bringing about change will be essential. This part of the paper will also highlight the value of using both bibliometric and systematic reviews as a means of generating wide-angle and close-up perspectives of the current strength and weakness of nursing research. Finally the paper will turn to the use of social network analysis as a means of obtaining information and influencing agendas at local, national and interaction levels. It will be argued that in an increasingly globalised, dynamic and interconnected world nurses need to utilise their networks to bring about desired health systems change.