This paper examines the current state of evaluations of health care interventions in the European Union, from the identification and commissioning of research through to its impact on policy and practice. Material is drawn from a survey conducted for the ASTEC project as well as a review of literature. Although the use of evaluative research has increased substantially in the last decade, both the pace of change and preferred research methodologies employed differ markedly. Much research still concentrates on issues of safety, efficacy and effectiveness, although there is evidence of an increasing emphasis on cost-effectiveness. Many countries are beginning to introduce systems linking economic evaluation to the decision-making process, while networks for the exchange of information continue to evolve. Research capacity in the public sector, although improving, is uneven, in part due to the uncertainty over long term career prospects and competition from industry. Capacity building measures should in particular ensure that dissemination expertise is strengthened, and that more emphasis is placed on developing receptor capacity within different stakeholder groups. Linking knowledge production to changes in practice remains a key challenge. Further research on implementation and impact assessment is required, to help demonstrate the value of evaluations on both policy and practice
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