MeTA - communicating health research

The appetite for evidence-based policy and practice means that the factors that affect the influence of research on policy are being taken into account and studies relating to this show that there is a need for effective communication. Such communication includes both the appropriate dissemination of research results and attention to the networks and links between researchers, policymakers and practitioners throughout the research process. There is also much to learn from work at the 'research-practice boundary'.

Communicating research generated through the MeTA programme effectively is essential if it is to have an impact on policy development and help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the medicines supply chain, so that people can access good quality essential medicines when they need them and at a price they can afford.

We would welcome suggestions or additions to the list: please send these to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org

Selected resources

Books, reports, etc

A strategic evaluation of the influence of research on public policy

GRAHAM, Michael
June 2004

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This four page paper outlines some of the challenges and lessons learned from a strategic evaluation of the policy influence of research supported by IDRC. It asked three fundamental questions: what does policy influence mean? In which cases has research supported by IDRC influenced policy? what factors contribute to, or inhibit, policy influence? It briefly outlines the methodology of the evaluation and presents a summary of the analysis and outputs, as well as factors worthy of further study

Bridging research and policy : an annotated bibliography

HOVLAND, Ingie
DE VIBE, Maja
YOUNG, John
2002

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An extensive annotated bibliography of 100 documents relevant to 'bridging research and policy'. Mainstream literature is supplemented with alternative viewpoints. The bibliography has been divided into three key themes ('bridging research and policy: the political context', 'the actors: networks, organisations, individuals', 'the message and the media'), including 'new' subject areas that may be useful (eg social psychology, media studies, marketing and communication). The entries are listed alphabetically by author, and then cross-indexed by theme, and by academic discipline

Bridging research and policy : insights from 50 case studies

COURT, Julius
YOUNG, John
August 2003

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This paper looks at why some research policy ideas are picked up and acted on while others are ignored and disappear. It examines the processes, findings and implications of 50 summary case studies on research policy linkages. Discussion centres around four interlinked spheres: context, evidence, links and external influences. Some case studies show a clear and direct link between research and policy, while most show a less direct impact with a necessity for strong advocacy efforts. The case studies represent an interesting range of evidence and experience about research-policy links from around the world. They include examples from a wide range of types of research carried out by a variety of organisations and illustrate different types of policy impact. This ranges from direct impact on policy, changes in policy implementation, and changes on the ground but little in policy

Communicating health research : how should evidence affect policy and practice?

VINCENT, Robin
April 2006

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This accessible briefing paper outlines a number of key issues and challenges for strengthening research communication and promoting evidence-based policy. It reviews a range of recent NGO initiatives and debates in this area and signposts a number of useful resources and case studies. Considers the need to bridge the gaps between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners, the role of influential policy networks, the role of political context, components of effective research communicatIon, and some promising initiatives at the 'research-practice boundary'

Fixing health systems : linking research, development, systems, and partnerships

SAVIGNY, Don de
et al
2008

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Describes the process and lessons learned from the Tanzania Essential Health Intervention Project (TEHIP). This intervention used research to support the development of health care interventions aimed at the local burden of disease priorities. Local demographic surveillance helped to establish health intervention priorities in two districts, and then simple, computer-based 'burden of disease profiling tools' were used to help decide the allocation of budgets. The result was a large decrease in mortality rates, particularly among children and an increase in patient satisfaction and attendance at clinics

Getting research into policy and practice

INSTITUTE OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (IDS)
October 2009

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This issue focuses on the innovative approaches to communicating research experiences being used by researchers and communication experts around sexual and reproductive health and HIV and AIDS globally. It includes specific articles about Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Bangladesh

Going beyond research : a key issues paper raising discussion points related to dissemination, utilisation and impact of reproductive and sexual health research

ASKEW, Ian
MATTHEWS, Zoe
PARTRIDGE, Rachel
2001

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Focuses on applied or operations or health services research and reviews how this is implemented. Considers utlisation, communication and evaluation of research, in the field of reproductive and sexual health in particular. Reviews a range of methods useful for evaluating the impact of research

Guide for documenting and sharing 'best practices' in health programmes

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO), REGIONAL OFFICE FOR AFRICA
2008

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This document provides guidance on the process for identifying, documenting and sharing knowledge on country experiences in the planning, implementation and monitoring of health programmes and services that can be considered as 'Best Practices' and that can contribute to the acceleration and expansion of health sector actions. It has been written for WHO staff, ministries of health and civil society organisations

How to investigate the use of medicines by consumers

HARDON, Anita
HODGKIN, Catherine
FRESLE, Daphne
2004

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This manual is a practical guide to the use of research methods for investigating medicines use by consumers, particularly those in developing countries, in order to identify problems, design interventions and measure changes. It will help health workers, policy-makers, administrators, researchers, educationalists, medical and pharmacy students, and many others to go beyond the individual and to the study the community as a focus. Topics covered include the reasons for studying medicine use by consumers, what influences consumer choice, and how to prioritise and analyse community medicines use problems. There are chapters on sampling and data analysis, and the manual concludes by looking at the important issue of monitoring and evaluating interventions

Knowledge translation : a Research Matters toolkit|Bridging the 'know-do' gap : a resource for researchers

CAMPBELL, Sandy
et al
November 2008

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Knowledge Translation (KT) works to knit together research and action. "An intensely social process, KT depends upon relationships....[It has] three core principles: - Knowledge. KT efforts at any level depend upon a robust, accessible and contextualized knowledge base. - Dialogue. The relationships at the heart of KT can only be sustained through regular, two-way dialogue and exchange. - Capacity. Researchers, decision-makers and other research-users require a strengthened skill-base to create and respond to KT opportunities." The introduction is also available in French

Linking research : policy and practice to improve equity in health care in Malawi. REACH : challenging barriers to health care

DUNN, Alison
August 2005

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This briefing paper considers the findings of research conducted by REACH, an independent research trust in Malawi, on poverty and access to health care services at community level. It looks at the processes used by REACH to communicate findings into policy and practice. These include developing relationships with policymakers to enhance ownership of the research process, advocating research findings at policy fora, presenting findings generated by a range of research methods, and strategically framing the research in different discourses (eg poverty, gender) depending on the audience

Making a difference : M&E of policy research

HOVLAND, Ingie
July 2007

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"This paper aims to advance understanding on how to monitor and evaluate policy research, i.e. research that is undertaken in order to inform and influence public policy. Policy is defined very broadly to encompass both policy decisions and processes, including implementation..."

Making health communication programs work

NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
2002

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This handbook presents key principles and steps in developing and evaluating health communication program for the public, patients, and health professionals. It expands upon and replaces two earlier publications titled Pretesting in Health Communications and Making PSA's Work. Referring primarily to the context of the United States, the guide discusses specific steps in program development and includes examples of their use. Sources of additional information on each subject are included at the end of the chapters

Overview of health communication campaigns

THE HEALTH COMMUNICATION UNIT
March 2007

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This guide provides a hands-on 12-step process to developing health communication campaigns. Each chapter is created according to the steps, with information on what the step is, why it is important and what is required to carry it out

Sound choices : enhancing capacity for evidence-informed health policy

GREEN, Andrew
BENNETT, Sara
2007

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This review addresses a mismatch between what is known about how to respond to particular health problems in poor economies and what is actually done about them. It focuses on one cause of the problems that ensue from the mismatch -capacity constraints. Weak capacity at a number of levels in the institutions and interfaces between knowledge generation and use in policy-making has been identified by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) as a key strategic issue in addressing health care in low-income countries

Spreading the word further : guidelines for research disseminating development research

FISHER, Julie
ODHIAMBO, Frank
COTTON, Andrew
2003

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[Publisher's abstract] This book is a product of the second phase of a DFID-funded KaR project that is aimed at increasing the impact of research through improved dissemination of the research process and findings. It develops the ideas from phase one of the project 'Spreading the Word: Practical guidelines for research dissemination strategies' (Saywell and Cotton, 1999) (Source record number 35244). Based on in-depth consultation with Southern agencies about appropriate methods and formats by which to share information and knowledge relating to development research projects, this book provides dissemination checklists and guidelines. It also provides a useful overview of the issues and more specific advise for anyone engaged in development-related research, whether as contractors, practitioners or donors, at all stages of the project cycle

Strengthening health systems : the role and promise of policy and systems research

ALLIANCE FOR HEALTH POLICY AND SYSTEMS RESEARCH (AHPSR)
2004

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Looks at the relative influence of policy and systems research on health systems in practice. Case studies illustrate the application of health systems research to solving problems of policy and practice. Addresses a number of key areas such as: the setting of research priorities, getting research into policy and practice, and developing research capacity in developing countries

Successful communication : a toolkit for researchers and civil society organisations

HOVLAND, Ingie
October 2005

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From the introduction: "This toolkit is for researchers and practitioners who wish to communicate to policymakers. The tools are therefore specifically geared towards the needs of researchers and practitioners in civil society organisations (CSOs), including development NGOs, research institutes, think tanks, universities and networks. The toolkit addresses the questions of how researchers and CSOs can best communicate evidence in order to inform or influence policy, to achieve their own stated development objectives, or simply to make their own knowledge accessible and understandable to a wider audience." After a brief but useful introduction, tools are presented in four sections: planning, packaging, targeting and monitoring

Systems thinking for health systems strengthening

Eds
2009

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This third report knits together earlier work by accelerating a more realistic understanding of what works in strengthening health systems, for whom and under what circumstances. Its primary goal is to catalyse new conceptual thinking on health systems, system-level interventions, and health system strengthening

Tools for policy impact : a handbook for researchers

START, Daniel
HOVLAND, Ingie
October 2004

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"This handbook presents work in progress on tools for policy impact, specifically geared towards the needs of researchers. "The handbook is particularly targeted at civil society organisations, or the parts of them, whose activities involve gathering evidence, doing research, learning lessons or advising on strategy for social, environmental and economic development in the North and South"

Using research to inform health policy : barriers and strategies in developing countries

HENNINK, Monique
STEPHENSON, Rob
2004

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Looks at the uptake of health research into policy in four developing countries - Malawi, Tanzania, India and Pakistan. Identifies a range of barriers to effective dissemination and uptake of research results based on interviews with researchers, policy-makers and a range of stakeholders. Makes recommendations for donor support to developing country research capacity and greater involvement of practitioners and policy-makers in the south in research priorities and applications

Journal articles

Bridging the gaps between research, policy and practice in low- and middle-income countries : a survey of health care providers

GUINDON, G Emmanuel
et al
May 2010

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This article discusses the results of a survey to examine the gaps that continue to exist between research based evidence and clinical practice. Health care providers in 10 low- and middle-income countries were surveyed about their use of research-based evidence and examined factors that may facilitate or impede such use. The conclusion is that locally conducted or published research plays an important role in changing the professional practice of health care providers surveyed in low- and middle-income countries and increased investments in local research, or at least in locally adapted publications of research-based evidence from other settings, are therefore needed. Although access to the Internet was viewed as a significant factor in whether research-based evidence led to concrete changes in practice, few respondents reported having easy access to the Internet. Therefore, efforts to improve Internet access in clinical settings need to be accelerate

Bridging the gaps between research, policy and practice in low- and middle-income countries a survey of researchers

LAVIS, John N
et al
May 2010

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This article describes the findings from a study which examined efforts to bridge the gaps between research, policy and practice in 10 low- and middle-income countries in which researchers conducting research in one of four clinical areas relevant to the Millennium Development Goals: prevention of malaria (Ghana, Laos, Senegal and Tanzania), care of women seeking contraception (China, Kazakhstan, Laos and Mexico), care of children with diarrhoea (Ghana, India, Pakistan and Senegal) and care of patients with tuberculosis (China, India, Iran and Mexico) were surveyed

Research to practice [whole issue]

BEST, Kim
Ed
2003

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Examines the challenges of getting medical and public health research into practice in resource-poor settings. Addresses practice at the policy, organisational and individual levels. Uses brief case studies from the field of reproductive health to illustrate points

SUPPORT tools for evidence-informed health policymaking (STP)

OXMAN, Andy
HANNEY, Stephen
Eds
December 2009

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This is a set of 18 tools that can be used by those involved in finding and using research evidence to support evidence-informed health policy making. The series addresses four broad areas: supporting evidence-informed policymaking; identifying needs for research evidence; finding and assessing research evidence; and, going from research evidence to decisions

Multimedia

Measuring medicine prices, availability, affordability and price components

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO)
HEALTH ACTION INTERNATIONAL (HAI)
2008

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This manual is to help governments, civil society groups and others concerned about the prices of medicines to collect and analyse: medicine prices (patient prices and government procurement prices) across sectors and regions in a country; medicine availability; treatment affordability; and all price components in the supply chain from manufacturer to patient (taxes, mark-ups etc.). It is accompanied by a CD-ROM which contains a more extensive collection resources and tools, such as sample training materials, frequently asked questions, and a report template for use in developing national survey reports

Websites

Bridging research and policy : introduction and key themes

March 2004

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A list of useful documents and key themes around the area of bridging research and policy are identified. Key themes include: the policy cycle - identifying 'spaces' for research to inform policy; policy making - comprehensive or chaotic? how and why research is used by policy makers; improving the take up of research knowledge - the role of knowledge brokers and enhancing the use of research knowledge. A select bibliography in the final section contains useful references

ODI Research and policy in development (RAPID) Programme

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This website for ODI's Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) programme provides a range of information on the use of research and evidence in development policy and practice. The site includes lessons from the programme so far, current and past projects, bibliographies, and links to related work. The RAPID programme aims to improve the use of research in development policy and practice through improved knowledge about research-policy links; improved knowledge management and learning systems; improved communication; and improved awareness of the importance of research. It addresses the role of evidence in policy processes; improved communication and information systems for policy and practice; and approaches to institutional development for evidence-based policy

SciDev.Net : Science and development network

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This website offers policymakers, researchers, the media and civil society information and a platform to explore how science and technology can reduce poverty, improve health and raise standards of living around the world. SciDev.Net also builds developing countries’ capacity for communicating science and technology through regional networks of committed individuals and organisations, practical guidance and specialist workshops

Suriname indigenous health fund (SIH Fund)

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This is the website for a project which gives indigenous people in Suriname's interior Greenstone Belt region with the materials and technical support they need to self-diagnose the effects of mercury pollution from gold-mining on their community's and their environment's health