Embedding Research into Policy and Practices


Participants, Expert Consulations, Boston, 8-9 May 2013

Expert consultations on embedding research into decision-making processes

Expert consultations were held at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, from 8 to 9 May 2013, in order to develop operational strategies that can be used by governments and other stakeholders to embed research into decision-making processes, a key recommendation of the WHO Strategy on Health Policy and Systems Research.

Background

Over the past decade, tremendous amounts of donor funding have flowed to the health sector in low- and middle-income countries. Despite these resources, research has routinely demonstrated that weak health systems prevent those funds from attaining their desired impact. The need for health policy and systems research (HPSR) to address these challenges has never been more acute, or more recognized. There is not only a dearth of HPSR knowledge and institutions capable of undertaking it, there are also deficiencies in the way limited existing knowledge is utilized. Research may generate an abundant supply of information, but if there is no demand for it, there will be low uptake of that information into the policy-making. The current challenge is to ensure the timely conduct of policy-relevant research, with inputs from research users throughout the process.

Since 1999 the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research has worked to strengthen the health systems of low- and middle-income countries through the generation and use of relevant health policy and systems research. More recently, the Alliance supported the development of the WHO Strategy on Health Policy and Systems Research which emphasizes the embedding of research into decision-making processes.

Purpose

The overall goal of this expert consultation was to develop operational strategies that can be used by governments and other stakeholders to embed research into decision-making processes. To this end, this consultation engaged global leaders including researchers, decision-makers, and funders in a two-day consultation. The consultation achieved the following specific objectives:
(1) a review of existing models of embedding and the evidence supporting these models;
(2) the identification of strategies to operationalize these models in diverse settings; and
(3) a discussion of the support that is needed by countries to implement these models of embedded research.

Outcomes

It was agreed that a framework needs to be developed, to guide the embeddedness of research into decision-making. This framework should be based on
(a) the needs,
(b) the capacities and
(c) the available funding situation of each country. There was also agreement on the need to interact with existing initiatives, such as EVIPNet and make use of existing tools and platforms as starting blocks for new and innovative frameworks.

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