Monitoring equity and research policy

Turning Research into Action

For over twenty years, managers of health programs have relied on many types of research to help answer strategic and programmatic questions. Demographic surveys, rapid assessments, operations research, and sociological and economic studies contribute significantly to the manager's ability to formulate appropriate goals, determine strategies, and assess the achievement of program goals. Such contributions are leading program managers to appreciate research as an important management tool. To use this tool effectively, managers must be able to systematically transform research results into decisions. They will need support from decision makers who understand the implications of research findings, and who are ready to advocate for action. This issue of The Manager presents a process known as "decision-linked research," the goal of which is to establish effective partnerships between researchers and decision makers so that the research findings can be transformed into programmatic actions. The issue focuses on how to formulate these partnerships, how to forge common interests between researchers and the users of research results, how to make research understandable to those who will be affected by the results, and finally, how to transform research results into actions aimed at improving policies, strategies, and programs.

Bridging research and policy
Critical examination of the current thinking on the research to policy process

Stone, D; Maxwell, S.; Keating, M. Produced by: Bridging Research and Policy: workshop and research project (2001)
This paper reviews some of the existing literature in various disciplines exploring the relationship beteen research and policy, and draws out the implications for both researchers and policy-makers.

Bridging research and policy:
from workshops to an international programme

Young, J.Produced by: Bridging Research and Policy: workshop and research project (2001)
This proposal describes a participatory 4-month process to develop a bridging programme to improve linkages between development research and policy. The process will continue the discussions started at the Global Development Network conference in Tokyo (December 2000), and continued at the workshop on Bridging Research and Policy in Warwick (July 2001), to develop a programme including a number of fundable proposals for specific activities with wide ownership.

Toward Higher Levels of Analysis:
Progress and Promise in Research on Social and Cultural Dimensions of Health

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a report, August 2001, that proposes a research agenda for the NIH related to the social and cultural dimensions of health. The focus of the report is on the development of health-related research in the social sciences. The report, "Toward Higher Levels of Analysis: Progress and Promise in Research on Social and Cultural Dimensions of Health," is based on recommendations made by participants in an OBSSR-sponsored conference held on June 27-28, 2000. The report reflects the belief that the continuing development and advancement of social sciences research are critical to the "future success of studies integrating all levels of analysis, from the molecular to the community or nation".

Corridors of Hope in Southern Africa:
HIV Prevention Needs and Opportunities in Four Border Towns

This report summarizes the findings of an assessment conducted for the United States Agency for International Development’s "Corridors of Hope" Initiative, a regional HIV/AIDS prevention project focusing on key sites along the Durban-Lusaka highway in southern Africa. Conducted in November 1999 in Messina, South Africa, Chirundu, Zambia, and Beitbridge and Chirundu in Zimbabwe, the assessment sought to develop, test, refine and package a standard participatory methodology for evaluating HIV risk, identifying prevention opportunities and designing grounded, coordinated regional prevention initiatives.

Globalization and health:
a framework for analysis and action

David Woodward, Nick Drager, Robert Beaglehole,
& Debra Lipson. Bulletin of the World Health Organization Volume 79, Number 9, September 2001
Globalization is a key challenge to public health, especially in developing countries, but the linkages between globalization and health are complex. Although a growing amount of literature has appeared on the subject, it is piecemeal, and suffers from a lack of an agreed framework for assessing the direct and indirect health effects of different aspects of globalization. This paper presents a conceptual framework for the linkages between economic globalization and health, with the intention that it will serve as a basis for synthesizing existing relevant literature, identifying gaps in knowledge, and ultimately developing national and international policies more favourable to health. The framework encompasses both the indirect effects on health, operating through the national economy, household economies and health-related sectors such as water, sanitation and education, as well as more direct effects on population-level and individual risk factors for health and on the health care system. Proposed also is a set of broad objectives for a programme of action to optimize the health effects of economic globalization. The paper concludes by identifying priorities for research corresponding with the five linkages identified as critical to the effects of globalization on health.

International Conference on Health Policy Research (ICHPR):
Methodological Issues in Health Services and Outcomes Research

Boston, MA, USA - December 7 - 9, 2001. Health Policy Statistics Section (HPSS) - American Statistical Association.
The conference provides a forum for discussing research needs and solutions to the methodological challenges in health services research. Its specific aim is to create the interface for methodologists and health service researchers. The Program will cover several technical areas including hierarchical models, longitudinal data, causal inference, techniques for assessing quality of care and for profiling providers, techniques for inferring disparities, decision making, data mining, and survey design. The deadline for abstracts: September 17, 2001.

Is that study really necessary?

Stuck for a punchy conclusion to a scientific paper? Best avoid the mantra 'more research is needed' - a US epidemiologist has now devised a way to work out whether, for any given study, this claim is justified.

Slow progress? Monitoring HIV disease in Uganda

Understanding HIV disease progression is critical for planning healthcare strategies in developing countries. What is the best way to monitor disease progression in the absence of laboratory tests? How does HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa differ from developed regions? A study by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Uganda Virus Research Institute addressed these issues.

On measuring inequalities in health

Michael Wolfson, Assistant Chief Statistician, Statistics Canada and Geoff Rowe, Senior Analyst, Socioeconomic Modelling Group, Statistics Ottawa, Canada. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, June 2001, 79(6): 553-560
In a recent series of papers, Murray et al. have put forward a number of important ideas regarding the measurement of inequalities in health. In this paper we agree with some of these ideas but draw attention to one key aspect of their approach -measuring inequalities on the basis of small area data -which is flawed. A numerical example is presented to illustrate the problem. An alternative approach drawing on longitudinal data is outlined, which preserves and enhances the most desirable aspects of their proposal. These include the use of a life course perspective, and the consideration of non-fatal health outcomes as well as the more usual information on mortality patterns.