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Communication of scientific uncertainty: International case studies on the development of folate and vitamin D Dietary Reference Values

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Kerry A Brown, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
  • Liesbeth de Wit, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
  • Lada Timotijevic, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
  • Anne-Mette Sonne, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  • Liisa Lähteenmäki
  • Noé Brito Garcia, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
  • Marta Jeruszka-Bielak, Warsaw University, Poland
  • Ewa Sicinska, Warsaw University, Poland
  • Alana N Moore, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Mark Lawrence, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Monique M Raats, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Objective: Transparent evidence-based decision making has been promoted
worldwide to engender trust in science and policy making. Yet, little attention has been given to transparency implementation. The degree of transparency (focused on how uncertain evidence was handled) during the development of folate and vitamin D Dietary Reference Values was explored in three a priori defined areas: (i) value request; (ii) evidence evaluation; and (iii) final values.
Design: Qualitative case studies (semi-structured interviews and desk research).
A common protocol was used for data collection, interview thematic analysis and
reporting. Results were coordinated via cross-case synthesis.
Setting: Australia and New Zealand, Netherlands, Nordic countries, Poland, Spain
and UK.
Subjects: Twenty-one interviews were conducted in six case studies.
Results: Transparency of process was not universally observed across countries or areas of the recommendation setting process. Transparency practices were most commonly seen surrounding the request to develop reference values (e.g. access to risk manager/assessor problem formulation discussions) and evidence
evaluation (e.g. disclosure of risk assessor data sourcing/evaluation protocols).
Fewer transparency practices were observed to assist with handling uncertainty in the evidence base during the development of quantitative reference values.
Conclusions: Implementation of transparency policies may be limited by a lack of
dedicated resources and best practice procedures, particularly to assist with the
latter stages of reference value development. Challenges remain regarding the best practice for transparently communicating the influence of uncertain evidence on the final reference values. Resolving this issue may assist the evolution of nutrition risk assessment and better inform the recommendation setting process
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Pages (from-to)1378-1388
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • EURRECA, Transparency, Uncertainty, Micronutrient Dietary Reference Values, Advisory committee

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