Ben Verboom

Study program:
DPhil Social Intervention
Current affiliation:
University of Oxford

Ben Verboom (social intervention, University of Oxford) is seeking to better understand and encourage the use of science in global health policymaking by Canadian and international institutions.

 Doctoral research

The Use of Research Evidence in Global Health Policymaking: Processes and Politics

Impassioned calls abound for research evidence to be positioned at the centre of global health policy decisions. These calls are countered by equally frequent claims of evidence-based policymaking by national and global political actors. Notwithstading the rhetoric, however, we continue to have a poor understanding of the actual degree and nature of the use of evidence in global health, the ways that policymakers perceive the place of evidence-based policymaking in their work, and the politics of “evidence-to-policy” processes.

Ben’s thesis sets out to examine the use of evidence in global health policymaking within a sample of national and intergovernmental institutions. Using a combination of systematic review methods, qualitative interviews with policymakers, and documentary analysis, his project will explore: (1) the extent and nature of evidence use in the institutions sampled; (2) the processes through which evidence is accessed, considered, and weighed against competing priorities (especially political considerations); and (3) how policymakers’ conceptions of evidence use square with official policy documents, and the degree to which these policies are grounded in evidence.

Ben Verboom is currently pursuing his DPhil (PhD) in social intervention at the University of Oxford's Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention. His doctoral work is examining the role of research evidence in global health policymaking, with the ultimate goal of supporting efforts to foster evidence-informed policy, both within Canada and across the global health governance system.

Ben's other research interests include the development, implementation, and evaluation of structural-level policy interventions to address complex problems in public health and global development. Working with colleagues at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), he has recently completed development of an 'evidence gap map' for extreme poverty reduction. This interactive online tool compiles and summarizes research evidence into actionable policy options for use by policymakers. Ben is currently the lead author of the first systematic review of combination (multi-component) HIV prevention interventions for men who have sex with men.

A survivor of suicide loss, Ben has been involved in the cause of suicide prevention and stigma reduction for several years. In 2009, he established and led a Canada-wide campaign to raise awareness about suicide and to tackle its associated stigma. Inspired by his late father's passion for cycling, he spent a summer cycling across Canada, from St. John's to Victoria, sharing his story and fostering public dialogue on suicide and mental illness. More recently, Ben worked on community-based HIV prevention and health promotion projects with nonprofit organizations in Namibia and Tanzania.

A physical educator and personal trainer in a past life, Ben has an intense passion for sport and physical activity. He regularly sets aside time for running and cycling, and he plays for the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club. One of Ben’s biggest recent thrills was his chance to serve as a torchbearer in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Ben holds a bachelor of physical and health education degree from the University of Toronto and a master of science degree from the University of Oxford.