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Academy of Medical Sciences funds new dialogue project, which requires adherence to Sciencewise principles

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In February 2016, the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) announced that they would be running a new public dialogue project: ‘Evidence for all: how do we weigh up the benefits and harms of medicines?’.

The AMS is funding the whole dialogue project, which can be seen as an impact of their experience with two successful earlier public dialogue projects which were supported by Sciencewise: the Drugsfutures dialogue project in 2006-2007 and the Animals Containing Human Material dialogue project in 2010.

More specifically, the tender for the new AMS dialogue requires delivery contractors to adhere to the Sciencewise guiding principles, and provides a direct link to the Sciencewise guiding principles. The tender (para 22) states that “The Academy supports the guiding principles for public dialogue on science and technology related issues identified by the Sciencewise programme. As such any applicants should accord with these principles in their tender proposals”.

The inclusion of this requirement for contractors to follow the Sciencewise guiding principles can also be seen as an impact from earlier AMS experience in previous projects which have been funded and supported by Sciencewise on the basis of those principles. Although Sciencewise is providing some support for the project, from a Sciencewise Dialogue and Engagement Specialist (DES), no funding is being provided and there is no requirement therefore for the project to comply with the principles.

The overall aim of the new dialogue project is to engage members of the public, patients, researchers and healthcare professionals in dialogue to explore how they access, interpret and use evidence to judge the potential benefits and harms of medicines. The dialogue is designed to identify: how evidence can best be communicated and used by different societies; what are the roles of professionals such as GPs and journalists in this process; how individuals’ views of evidence are influenced by health beliefs; and what forms of evidence influence the decision to take or use medicines.

It is expected that the recommendations on the communication, trustworthiness and utility of evidence that result from the work (including from the dialogue) will inform Government departments including Department of Health and BIS, research funders such as the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research, and healthcare providers in the NHS and beyond.

See related project page: Animals Containing Human Material