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 Politics and Processes of Evidence-Based Policymaking: A Research Synthesis and Case Study in West Africa

Ben’s research explores the complex relationship between research evidence and policymaking processes in public health and health systems: Why is a disconnect so commonly observed between what we “know” from research and what we “do” through our public policy decisions? When policy actors make use of insights from research, what are the processes through which research evidence influences their decisions? What are the prospects and possibilities for the “ideal” of “evidence-based” policymaking, and is this ideal even desirable and consistent with democratic norms? How can we better design our (national and supranational) governance structures to lend themselves to more “informed” policy decisions without compromising sovereignty and democratic legitimacy?

Ben aims to problematize the current body of work on the evidence-policy nexus in the health field, and re-examine that literature through the lenses of complex systems and critical realist research methodology. Following an in-depth systematic review and research synthesis, he will conduct an explanatory case study of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), a regional health governance body with the mandate to support and harmonize the policies of West Africa’s 15 national ministries of health.



Ben Verboom is currently pursuing his DPhil in social intervention at the University of Oxford's Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention. In his doctoral work, he is examining the role of research evidence in global health policymaking, with a particular focus on regional governance of health policy processes in West Africa.

Ben's other research interests include developing methods for research synthesis in the social sciences and for the evaluation of structural and policy-level interventions to address complex problems in public health and other sectors. Working with colleagues at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), he contributed to the 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. Ben has also worked on community-based HIV prevention and health promotion projects with civil society 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.