A Case Study of a Natural Experiment Bridging the 'Research into Policy' and 'Evidence-Based Policy' Gap for Active-Living Science
Hooper, P.; Foster, S.; Giles-Corti, B.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(14)
The translation of research into tangible health benefits via changes to urban planning policy and practice is a key intended outcome of academic active-living research endeavours. Conversely, policy-makers and planners identify the need for policy-specific evidence to ensure policy decisions and practices are informed and validated by rigorously established evidence. In practice, however, these two aspirations rarely meet and a research-translation gap remains. The RESIDE project is a unique longitudinal natural experiment designed to evaluate the health impacts of the 'Liveable Neighbourhoods' planning policy, which was introduced by the Western Australian Government to create more walkable suburbs. This commentary provides an overview and discussion of the policy-specific study methodologies undertaken to quantitatively assess the implementation of the policy and assess its active living and health impacts. It outlines the key research-translation successes and impact of the findings on the Liveable Neighbourhoods policy and discusses lessons learnt from the RESIDE project to inform future natural experiments of policy evaluation.