Bulletin of the World Health Organization

A global research agenda for family planning: results of an exercise for setting research priorities

Moazzam Ali, Armando Seuc, Asma Rahimi, Mario Festin & Marleen Temmerman

Objective

To develop a global research agenda that will guide investment in effective interventions to satisfy the large unmet need for modern methods of family planning.

Methods

In a global survey, experts on contraception were invited to identify and rank the types of research that would be needed – and the knowledge gaps that would have to be filled – to reduce the unmet need for family planning in the next decade. The experts were then asked to score the research on a given topic in terms of the likelihood of its leading to an intervention that would: (i) be deliverable, affordable and sustainable; (ii) substantially reduce the unmet need for contraceptives; (iii) be effective and efficient in improving health systems; (iv) be ethically implemented; and (v) improve equity in the target population. The overall scores were then ranked.

Findings

Most of the topics that received the 15 highest scores fell into three categories: implementation of policies in family planning; the integration of services to address barriers to contraceptive use; and interventions targeted at underserved groups, such as adolescents.

Conclusion

Experts on contraception gave top priority ranking to research on improving the implementation and integration of health services and on strengthening the health systems supporting family planning services. The results of the exercise may help decision-makers, researchers and funding agencies to develop a clear and focused approach to satisfying the global need for family planning and reach the target set by the Family Planning 2020 initiative.

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