Greater agreement is required to harness the potential of health intelligence: a critical interpretive synthesis

Michelle M. Haby*, Evelina Chapman, Jorge Otávio Maia Barreto, Oscar J. Mujica, Ana Rivière Cinnamond, Roberta Caixeta, Sebastian Garcia-Saiso, Ludovic Reveiz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: To synthesize existing knowledge on the features of, and approaches to, health intelligence, including definitions, key concepts, frameworks, methods and tools, types of evidence used, and research gaps. Study Design and Setting: We applied a critical interpretive synthesis methodology, combining systematic searching, purposive sampling, and inductive analysis to explore the topic. We conducted electronic and supplementary searches to identify records (papers, books, websites) based on their potential relevance to health intelligence. The key themes identified in the literature were combined under each of the compass subquestions and circulated among the research team for discussion and interpretation. Results: Of the 290 records screened, 40 were included in the synthesis. There is no clear definition of health intelligence in the literature. Some records describe it in similar terms as public health surveillance. Some focus on the use of artificial intelligence, while others refer to health intelligence in a military or security sense. And some authors have suggested a broader definition of health intelligence that explicitly includes the concepts of synthesis of research evidence for informed decision making. Conclusion: Rather than developing a new or all-encompassing definition, we suggest incorporating the concept and scope of health intelligence within the evidence ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-50
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Pan American Health Organization


  • Critical interpretive synthesis
  • Data
  • Evidence-informed decision making
  • Health intelligence
  • Information
  • Surveillance


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