Understanding the information behaviour of policy makers targeted by knowledge translation efforts is key to improving policy research impact. This study explores the reported information behaviour of pharmaceutical policy decision-makers in Canada, a country highly associated with evidence-based practice yet still facing substantial barriers to evidence-informed health policy.
We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with a purposive sample of 15 Canadian pharmaceutical policy decision-makers. Results of the descriptive, qualitative analysis were compared with the General Model of Information Seeking of Professionals (GMISP) proposed by Leckie, Pettigrew and Sylvain in 1996.
Characteristics of information needs included topic, depth/breadth of questions and time sensitivity. Approaches to information seeking were variously scattershot, systematic and delegated, depending on the characteristics as well as respondent resources. Major source types were human experts, electronic sources and trusted organisations. Affective (emotion-related) outcomes were common, including frustration and desire for better information systems and sources.
The GMISP model may be adapted to model information behaviour of Canadian pharmaceutical policy makers. In the absence of a dedicated, independent source for rapid-response policy research, these policy makers will likely continue to satisfice (make do) with available resources, and barriers to evidence-informed policy will persist.