Stefanie Ettelt

Associate Professor in Health Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


I am interested in researching the role of knowledge, science and evidence in policy and politics, mostly in relation to health and long-term care policy but with broader interests across policy fields and disciplines. I have written about the multiple purposes of policy piloting and the role of policy experiments as governance tools, the difficulty of interpreting scientific findings in law-making and courts (e.g. applied health technology assessment and the constitutional right to life to life) and the politics of ‘evidence-based’ regulatory tools such as minimum volumes for quality assurance in hospital.

Empirically researching role of science in policy and politics

I am especially keen on understanding the dynamics of evidence, policy and politics in different political systems and political cultures, and how these shape the expectations towards and practices of evidence use. Why is it that ‘evidence’ has such currency in some countries, but not in others? We tend to focus on the positives – evidence for social betterment – but what are the costs (no free lunches)?

Different sets of norms are involved in governing society

These include law, ethics, democracy and science, all of which have created their own traditions and sets of institutions. There are obvious tensions between different sets of norms, so I am interested in understanding to what extent these are productive (i.e. helpful for society) or problematic.

Policy experimentation is fascinating

Particularly because it involves many different stakeholders who all project different expectations on a policy pilot or experiment and derive different benefits (and costs) from it. Some may wish to ‘generate evidence’ by producing clear and decisive outcomes, but for others this is mostly an opportunity to build relationships and try something new.

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