The Institute of Medicine has issued numerous reports calling for the public health workforce to be adept in policy-making, communication, science translation, and other advocacy skills. Public health competencies include advocacy capabilities, but few public health graduate institutions provide systematic training for translating public health science into policy action. Specialized health-advocacy training is needed to provide future leaders with policy-making knowledge and skills in generating public support, policy-maker communications, and policy campaign operations that could lead to improvements in the outcomes of public health initiatives. Advocacy training should draw on nonprofit and government practitioners who have a range of advocacy experiences and skills. This article describes a potential model curriculum for introductory health-advocacy theory and skills based on the course, Health Advocacy, a winner of the Delta Omega Innovative Public Health Curriculum Award, at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.
The scale-up of malaria control efforts in recent years, coupled with major investments in malaria research, has produced impressive public health impact in a number of countries and has led to the development of new tools and strategies aimed at further consolidating malaria control goals. As a result, there is a growing need for the malaria policy setting process to rapidly review increasing amounts of evidence.
The World Health Organization Global Malaria Programme, in keeping with its mandate to set evidence-informed policies for malaria control, has convened the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee as a mechanism to increase the timeliness, transparency, independence and relevance of its recommendations to World Health Organization member states in relation to malaria control and elimination.
The Malaria Policy Advisory Committee, composed of 15 world-renowned malaria experts, will meet in full twice a year, with the inaugural meeting scheduled for 31 January to 2 February 2012 in Geneva. Policy recommendations, and the evidence to support them, will be published within two months of every meeting as part of an open access Malaria Journal thematic series. This article is a prelude to that series and provides the global malaria community with the background and overview of the Committee and its terms of reference.
global; malaria; policy recommendations; WHO
Local food and physical activity environments are known to impact health, and older adults are generally more vulnerable to health-related environmental impacts due to poorer physical function and mobility impairments. There is a need to develop cost-conscious, community-focused strategies that impact local food and physical activity environment policies. Engaging older adult community residents in assessment and advocacy activities is one avenue to address this need. We describe the Neighborhood Eating and Activity Advocacy Team project, a community-based participatory project in low-income communal housing settings in San Mateo County, CA, as one method for engaging older adults in food and physical activity environment and policy change. Methods and strategies used by the “community action teams” to generate relevant neighborhood environmental data, build coalitions, prioritize complex issues, and advocate for change are presented. Advocacy groups are feasible among older adults to improve food and physical activity environments.
Food environment; Physical activity environment; Advocacy; Neighborhood assessment; Seniors; Participatory research
The full benefit of prevention science will not be realized until we learn how to influence organizational practices. The marketing of tobacco, alcohol, and food and corporate advocacy for economic policies that maintain family poverty are examples of practices we must influence. This paper analyzes the evolution of such practices in terms of their selection by economic consequences. A strategy for addressing these critical risk factors should include: (a) systematic research on the impact of corporate practices on each of the most common and costly psychological and behavior problems; (b) empirical analyses of the consequences that select harmful corporate practices; (c) assessment of the impact of policies that could affect problematic corporate practices; and (d) research on advocacy organizations to understand the factors that influence their growth and to help them develop effective strategies for influencing corporate externalities.
Prevention; Intervention; Policymakers; Organizational practices; Advocacy
The tobacco industry utilizes third parties to advance its policy agenda. On excise taxes, the industry identified organized labor and progressive groups as potential allies whose advocacy could undermine public support for tax increases. To attract such collaboration, the industry framed the issue as one of tax fairness, creating a labor management committee to provide distance from tobacco companies and furthering progressive allies’ interests through financial and logistical support. Internal industry documents indicate that this strategic use of ideas, institutions, and interests facilitated the recruitment of leading progressive organizations as allies. By placing excise taxes within a strategic policy nexus that promotes mutual public interest goals, public health advocates may use a similar strategy in forging their own excise tax coalitions.
Tuberculosis remains a major public health problem in India with the country accounting for 1 in 5 of all TB cases reported globally. An advocacy, communication and social mobilisation project for Tuberculosis control was implemented and evaluated in Odisha state of India. The purpose of the study was to identify the impact of project interventions including the use of 'Interface NGOs' and involvement of community groups such as women's self-help groups, local government bodies, village health sanitation committees, and general health staff in promoting TB control efforts.
The study utilized a rapid assessment and response (RAR) methodology. The approach combined both qualitative field work approaches, including semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with empirical data collection and desk research.
Results revealed that a combination of factors including the involvement of Interface NGOs, coupled with increased training and engagement of front line health workers and community groups, and dissemination of community based resources, contributed to improved awareness and knowledge about TB in the targeted districts. Project activities also contributed towards improving health worker and community effectiveness to raise the TB agenda, and improved TB literacy and treatment adherence. Engagement of successfully treated patients also assisted in reducing community stigma and discrimination.
The expanded use of advocacy, communication and social mobilisation activities in TB control has resulted in a number of benefits. These include bridging pre-existing gaps between the health system and the community through support and coordination of general health services stakeholders, NGOs and the community. The strategic use of 'tailored messages' to address specific TB problems in low performing areas also led to more positive behavioural outcomes and improved efficiencies in service delivery. Implications for future studies are that a comprehensive and well planned range of ACSM activities can enhance TB knowledge, attitudes and behaviours while also mobilising specific community groups to build community efficacy to combat TB. The use of rapid assessments combined with other complementary evaluation approaches can be effective when reviewing the impact of TB advocacy, communication and social mobilisation activities.
tuberculosis; advocacy; communication; social mobilisation; rapid assessment and review
Journal policy on research data and code availability is an important part of the ongoing shift toward publishing reproducible computational science. This article extends the literature by studying journal data sharing policies by year (for both 2011 and 2012) for a referent set of 170 journals. We make a further contribution by evaluating code sharing policies, supplemental materials policies, and open access status for these 170 journals for each of 2011 and 2012. We build a predictive model of open data and code policy adoption as a function of impact factor and publisher and find higher impact journals more likely to have open data and code policies and scientific societies more likely to have open data and code policies than commercial publishers. We also find open data policies tend to lead open code policies, and we find no relationship between open data and code policies and either supplemental material policies or open access journal status. Of the journals in this study, 38% had a data policy, 22% had a code policy, and 66% had a supplemental materials policy as of June 2012. This reflects a striking one year increase of 16% in the number of data policies, a 30% increase in code policies, and a 7% increase in the number of supplemental materials policies. We introduce a new dataset to the community that categorizes data and code sharing, supplemental materials, and open access policies in 2011 and 2012 for these 170 journals.
Exposure assessment has shifted from pollutant monitoring in air, soil, and water toward personal exposure measurements and biomonitoring. This trend along with the paucity of health effect data for many of the pollutants studied raise ethical and scientific challenges for reporting results to study participants.
We interviewed 26 individuals involved in biomonitoring studies, including academic scientists, scientists from environmental advocacy organizations, IRB officials, and study participants; observed meetings where stakeholders discussed these issues; and reviewed the relevant literature to assess emerging ethical, scientific, and policy debates about personal exposure assessment and biomonitoring, including public demand for information on the human health effects of chemical body burdens.
We identify three frameworks for report-back in personal exposure studies: clinical ethics; community-based participatory research; and citizen science 'data judo.' The first approach emphasizes reporting results only when the health significance of exposures is known, while the latter two represent new communication strategies where study participants play a role in interpreting, disseminating, and leveraging results to promote community health. We identify five critical areas to consider in planning future biomonitoring studies.
Public deliberation about communication in personal exposure assessment research suggests that new forms of community-based research ethics and participatory scientific practice are emerging.
To examine the association between the presence of community advocacy groups (CAGs) and female sex workers' (FSWs) access to social entitlements and outcomes of police advocacy.
Data were used from a cross-sectional survey conducted in 2010–2011 among 1986 FSWs and 104 NGO outreach workers from five districts of Andhra Pradesh. FSWs were recruited using a probability-based sampling from 104 primary sampling units (PSUs). A PSU is a geographical area covered by one outreach worker and is expected to have an active CAG as per community mobilisation efforts. The presence of active CAGs was defined as the presence of an active committee or advocacy group in the area (PSU). Outcome indicators included acquisition of different social entitlements and measures of police response as reported by FSWs. Multivariate linear and logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations.
Areas with active CAGs compared with their counterparts had a significantly higher mean number of FSWs linked to ration cards (12.8 vs 6.8; p<0.01), bank accounts (9.3 vs 5.9; p=0.05) and health insurance (13.1 vs 7.0; p=0.02). A significantly higher percentage of FSWs from areas with active CAGs as compared with others reported that the police treat them more fairly now than a year before (79.7% vs 70.3%; p<0.05) and the police explained the reasons for arrest when arrested the last time (95.7% vs 87%; p<0.05).
FSWs from areas with active CAGs were more likely to access certain social entitlements and to receive a fair response from the police, highlighting the contributions of CAGs in community mobilisation.
Structural interventions; sex workers; HIV prevention intervention; community advocacy; social capital; empowerment; HIV; AIDS; public health; violence; epidemiology; statistics
The "Rating the States" (RTS) Program of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is designed to bring public attention to the status of State government efforts to combat alcohol-impaired driving. MADD's 1993 report, which evaluated each State with a grade from A to D, brought renewed visibility to MADD's fight for new prevention policies and helped to advance key State legislation. Because of MADD's national press conference and other media activities, more than 60 million Americans saw or heard a news story related to the program. This article outlines the program's objectives and methodology, efforts to publicize the results, and what was achieved in terms of news media coverage and in advancing public policy change. The RTS Program is a proven media advocacy strategy for prompting State legislatures and Governors to enact new policies. The article concludes with guidelines for other public health advocacy groups that may want to emulate this strategy.
In the 6 years since the implementation of Medicare Part D in the United States, the program has been reported to improve quality, offer better beneficiary protections, and lower drug costs.
The purpose of this article was to highlight the latest key peer-reviewed research findings on Medicare Part D and major public policy initiatives for Part D for 2012.
PubMed was searched for studies on Medicare Part D published in 2011 in biomedical/scientific, peer-reviewed, English-language journals. For the policy update, sources included the Federal Register, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Manual, the 2012 Final Call Letter, and guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Medicare Part D has been associated with increased medication utilization, reduced out-of-pocket expenditures, and an overall decrease in cost-related non-adherence and nonpersistence. Its impact on reduction in non-drug utilization of health services has been more apparent after the transition year in 2006 and among subsets of Medicare beneficiaries. Recent policy changes promise to make Part D more user-friendly, simplify choice, and offer greater protection to beneficiaries. The coverage gap will phase out by 2020. Both the quality rating system for prescription drug plans and medication therapy management programs were enhanced.
Although Part D was designed to improve drug benefits, improvements may be needed in plan selection and simplification, quality assessment (especially with regard to long-term impact and health outcomes), evidence-based improvements in medication therapy management, and disparities among priority subpopulations. Medicare Parts A, B, and D could be coordinated to offset costs by increasing medication expenses and decreasing expenses for nonprescription medical services, thereby improving the overall cost-effectiveness of the Medicare program.
beneficiaries; drug benefits; drug costs; Medicare Part D
In healthcare, a great deal of time, money and energy go into producing public reports for a wide range of audiences. Reporting strategies often target audiences like the general public, whose behaviour is not readily changed by the information in report cards. However, when it comes to effectively targeting groups that can actually use the data to achieve significant impacts, one audience stands out from the rest: health system managers and providers, who can interpret and apply performance data to improve the quality of care their organizations deliver. The evidence behind performance reports was recently summarized in Evidence Boost for Quality, a special subseries of Evidence Boost, produced by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation to showcase healthcare issues where research indicates a preferred course of action in health services management and policy. To access archived issues of Evidence Boost, visit .
A comprehensive population health-forecasting model has the potential to interject new and valuable information about the future health status of the population based on current conditions, socioeconomic and demographic trends, and potential changes in policies and programs. Our Health Forecasting Model uses a continuous-time microsimulation framework to simulate individuals' lifetime histories by using birth, risk exposures, disease incidence, and death rates to mark changes in the state of the individual. The model generates a reference forecast of future health in California, including details on physical activity, obesity, coronary heart disease, all-cause mortality, and medical expenditures. We use the model to answer specific research questions, inform debate on important policy issues in public health, support community advocacy, and provide analysis on the long-term impact of proposed changes in policies and programs, thus informing stakeholders at all levels and supporting decisions that can improve the health of populations.
Over the past decade, the Dutch government has pursued a research-based approach to tackle socioeconomic inequalities in health. We report on the most recent phase in this approach: the development of a strategy to reduce health inequalities in the Netherlands by an independent committee. In addition, we will reflect on the way the report of this committee has influenced health policy and practice.
A 6-year research and development program was conducted which covered a number of different policy options and consisted of 12 intervention studies. The study results were discussed with experts and policy makers. A government advisory committee developed a comprehensive strategy that intends to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in disability-free life expectancy by 25% in 2020. The strategy covers 4 different entry-points for reducing socioeconomic inequalities in health, contains 26 specific recommendations, and includes 11 quantitative policy targets. Further research and development efforts are also recommended.
Although the Dutch approach has been influenced by similar efforts in other European countries, particularly the United Kingdom and Sweden, it is unique in terms of its emphasis on building a systematic evidence-base for interventions and policies to reduce health inequalities. Both researchers and policy-makers were involved in the process, and there are clear indications that some of the recommendations are being adopted by health policy-makers and health care practice, although more so at the local than at the national level.
The Malaria Policy Advisory Committee to the World Health Organization met for the first time from 31 January to 2 February 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland. This article provides a summary of the discussions, conclusions and recommendations from that meeting, as part of the newly launched Malaria Journal thematic series “WHO Malaria Policy Advisory Committee: Reports and Recommendations”.
Summaries are provided, referencing the relevant background documents, for the meeting sessions on global malaria control, drug resistance and containment, rapid diagnostic test procurement criteria, larviciding, classification of countries for elimination, estimating malaria cases and deaths, and seasonal malaria chemoprevention. Policy statements, position statements, and guidelines that will arise from the MPAC meeting conclusions and recommendations will be formally issued and disseminated to World Health Organization member states by the World Health Organization Global Malaria Programme.
Global; Malaria; Policy development; WHO; Drug resistance; Diagnostic tests; Mosquito control; Elimination; Surveillance; Chemoprevention
Background: The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences recently published the report Exposure Science in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. The expert committee undertaking this report included expertise from ecology, chemistry, exposure science, toxicology, public health, bioethics, engineering, medicine, and policy.
Objective: Our aim is to inform members of the scientific community in fields aligned with environmental and public health so they are more able to appreciate the full breadth of the vision and understand the framework developed in order to move the vision forward.
Discussion: Although the NRC report was commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, it is solely the consensus product of the independent volunteer committee, whose findings were subject to the rigorous peer-review procedures of the NRC. In addition to reviewing the history and current status of exposure science, the report lays out a vision for the future and makes recommendations that include both short-term and long-term milestones.
Conclusion: To accomplish the vision presented in the NRC report, resources will be needed to complete studies, develop and use analyses of exposure, and build databases associated with individual and population exposures, as well as to train the next generation of exposure scientists. Important excerpts as well as paraphrased statements from the report appear in this commentary; however, the general observations and comments are our own.
eco-exposome; exposome; exposure assessment; exposure science; National Research Council
The advocacy–research partnership has been identified as a key method of conducting the feminist and activist research that is important to domestic violence. However, these partnerships are often fraught with challenges that may jeopardize their development, sustainability, and potential impact on policy. Previous commentators have identified key challenges to engaging in advocate–researcher collaborations. This article takes particular care to set forth an advocate perspective through the authors’ experience of planning and executing a collaborative study on the effects of mandatory arrest. The authors use a study that was specifically designed to affect policy to offer insight into the challenges faced and to make recommendations for successfully incorporating social action in advocacy–researcher collaborations.
domestic violence; advocate research collaborations
Despite the central influence of public policies on health and welfare, relatively little is known about actual health care policy-making processes. This presentation will offer preliminary results from a federally funded project aimed at gaining insights into the interrelations among interest-group strategies, media discourses and political debates in health care. The policy debate on health care privatization in Quebec is used as a case study.
Two sources of data were used: media sources and political debates. Media sources were the six main provincial newspapers in Quebec, two national newspapers and The Canadian Press, as well as transcripts from specific news-related programs of three national television stations and two national radio stations. Political debates were obtained through transcripts of all question periods in the Parliament and debates in the standing committee on health. Sources were systematically searched to identify all relevant data. Multiple search syntaxes were developed and tested to maximize sensitivity and specificity. All data was entered and coded into qualitative analysis software.
Data was analyzed longitudinally from June 2005 to January 1, 2010. Four levels of results will be presented: 1) Descriptive analysis of the interest groups involved, their policy preferences and the rhetoric they employed to support their views. 2) Descriptive analysis of the main policy proposals that structured the debate as well as of the coalition of groups behind those proposals. 3) Graphic longitudinal analysis of the intensity of the debate and of the relative importance and evolution of various policy proposals. 4) Preliminary results on the nature, direction and level of inter-influence between the policy and media agendas.
This presentation provides empirical evidence on current policy-making processes in health care. It shows, unsurprisingly, that policy-making is a circumvoluted process of inter-influence among interest groups, politicians and the media. It also highlights the fact that scientific evidence actually plays a minor (if any) role in policy processes.
PMID: 23155352 CAMSID: cams2440
Global advances in patient safety have been hampered by the lack of a uniform classification of patient safety concepts. This is a significant barrier to developing strategies to reduce risk, performing evidence-based research and evaluating existing healthcare policies relevant to patient safety. Since 2005, the World Health Organization's World Alliance for Patient Safety has undertaken the Project to Develop an International Classification for Patient Safety (ICPS) to devise a classification which transforms patient safety information collected from disparate systems into a common format to facilitate aggregation, analysis and learning across disciplines, borders and time. A drafting group, comprised of experts from the fields of patient safety, classification theory, health informatics, consumer/patient advocacy, law and medicine, identified and defined key patient safety concepts and developed an internationally agreed conceptual framework for the ICPS based upon existing patient safety classifications. The conceptual framework was iteratively improved through technical expert meetings and a two-stage web-based modified Delphi survey of over 250 international experts. This work culminated in a conceptual framework consisting of ten high level classes: incident type, patient outcomes, patient characteristics, incident characteristics, contributing factors/hazards, organizational outcomes, detection, mitigating factors, ameliorating actions and actions taken to reduce risk. While the framework for the ICPS is in place, several challenges remain. Concepts need to be defined, guidance for using the classification needs to be provided, and further real-world testing needs to occur to progressively refine the ICPS to ensure it is fit for purpose.
classification; patient safety; incident; conceptual framework
The WHO recommended intervention of Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) appears to have been less successful than expected in reducing the burden of TB in some high prevalence settings. One strategy for enhancing DOTS is incorporating active case-finding through screening contacts of TB patients as widely used in low-prevalence settings. Predictive models that incorporate population-level effects on transmission provide one means of predicting impacts of such interventions. We aim to identify all TB transmission modelling studies addressing contact tracing and to describe and critically assess their modelling assumptions, parameter choices and relevance to policy. We searched MEDLINE, SCOPUS, COMPENDEX, Google Scholar and Web of Science databases for relevant English language publications up to February 2012. Of the 1285 studies identified, only 5 studies met our inclusion criteria of models of TB transmission dynamics in human populations designed to incorporate contact tracing as an intervention. Detailed implementation of contact processes was only present in two studies, while only one study presented a model for a high prevalence, developing world setting. Some use of relevant data for parameter estimation was made in each study however validation of the predicted impact of interventions was not attempted in any of the studies. Despite a large body of literature on TB transmission modelling, few published studies incorporate contact tracing. There is considerable scope for future analyses to make better use of data and to apply individual based models to facilitate more realistic patterns of infectious contact. Combined with a focus on high burden settings this would greatly increase the potential for models to inform the use of contract tracing as a TB control policy. Our findings highlight the potential for collaborative work between clinicians, epidemiologists and modellers to gather data required to enhance model development and validation and hence better inform future public health policy.
To develop a domestic violence surveillance system.
Material and Methods
The strategies included implementation of a standard digitalized reporting and analysis system along with advocacy with community decision makers, strengthening inter-institutional attention networks, consultation for constructing internal flow charts, sensitizing and training network teams in charge of providing health care in cases of domestic violence and supporting improved public policy prevention initiatives.
A total of 6 893 cases were observed using 2004 and 2005 surveillance system data. The system reports that 80% of the affected were women, followed by 36% children under 14 years. The identified aggressors were mainly females' partners. The system was useful for improving victim services.
Findings indicate that significant gains were made in facilitating the attention and treatment of victims of domestic violence, improving the procedural response process and enhancing the quality of information provided to policy-making bodies.
domestic violence; health surveillance; inter-sectorial action; prevention and control; public policies
The California Health Interview Survey, the largest state health survey in the United States, uses community-based participatory research principles to develop each cycle. Other large-scale health surveys rarely include participatory research approaches. Every 2 years, the California Health Interview Survey generates state and local population-based data on health insurance coverage, access to health care, chronic disease prevalence and management, health behaviors and disease prevention, and other health issues in California. The survey is used for policy and program development, advocacy, and research.
The development of the California Health Interview Survey involves more than 145 people from more than 60 state and local policymaking bodies, public health agencies, advocacy groups, research organizations, and health care organizations. They participate as volunteers in an advisory board, on technical advisory committees, and in work groups that interact with California Health Interview Survey research staff in an accountable advisory process that shapes survey topics, measures, and sample design and determines languages selected for translation. Survey results and data are provided to the communities involved in the survey.
California Health Interview Survey data have been widely used by local, state, and national public health leaders, policymakers, advocates, and researchers to improve access to health insurance and health care services and to develop and target prevention programs for obesity and chronic illnesses.
The California Health Interview Survey participatory research model has been an effective approach to planning and implementing a health survey and should be considered by developers of other large health surveys.
Using the consumer-oriented approach of social and commercial marketers, this article presents a process for crafting messages designed to improve people's health behaviors. The process, termed consumer-based health communications (CHC), transforms scientific recommendations into message strategies that are relevant to the consumer. The core of CHC is consumer research conducted to understand the consumer's reality, and thereby allowing six strategic questions to be answered. The immediate result of the CHC process is a strategy statement--a few pages that lay out who the target consumer is, what action should be taken, what to promise and how to make the promise credible, how and when to reach him or her, and what image to convey. The strategy statement then guides the execution of all communication efforts, be they public relations, mass media, direct marketing, media advocacy, or interpersonal influence. It identifies the most important "levers" for contact with the consumer. Everyone from creative specialists through management and program personnel can use the strategy statement as a touchstone to guide and judge the effectiveness of their efforts. The article provides a step by step illustration of the CHC process using the 5 A Day campaign as an example.
This glocal (global knowledge with local action) symposium was convened by a professional therapeutic massage bodywork professional organization to bring together the fields of economics, politics, and traditional and complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) to begin development of effective TCAM advocacy worldwide. The symposium addressed the core question, “What information will be needed to address issues that will arise as TCAM practitioners advocate for a respectful and equalfooting access to health care provision, public and private, worldwide?”
Participants and Setting
The 35 international participants convened in a Victoria, Canada hotel. They were selectively invited to provide expertise in: advocacy, politics, public policy, economics, TCAM practice, integrative practice, sociology and TCAM research, education, media and language framing, psychology, and mediation.
The two-day symposium used a facilitated dialogue and knowledge-sharing design process geared to achieving group-supported recommendations. Invited panelists discussed each agenda topic, followed by facilitated discussion with the entire group.
In general, participants agreed that advocacy from a TCAM perspective is needed. Additionally, more research should use methods with more relevance to everyday health care provision and health care costs such as effectiveness comparative trials and cost effectiveness studies. A number of specific advocacy steps were recommended. Most focused on developing local support for better access and equity regarding TCAM within local health care systems and advocacy work, which needs to both understand and engage the local TCAM practitioners and those using the TCAM services.
The increasing awareness of TCAM and advancement toward integrative medicine—including traditional medicines and perspectives—are themes currently in development worldwide. Now is a good time for TCAM practitioners to open dialogue to develop better partnerships in health care. Such dialogue is facilitated when diverse people at the health care table understand each other’s perspectives. More discussions like this, with diverse people across more disciplines, need to occur worldwide.
congresses; consumer advocacy; delivery of health care - integrated; complementary therapies; holistic health; economics; organizing; financing; policy
This commentary introduces the HARPS supplement on getting research into policy and practice in sexual and reproductive health (SRH). The papers in this supplement have been produced by the Sexual Health and HIV Evidence into Practice (SHHEP) collaboration of international research, practitioner and advocacy organizations based in research programmes funded by the UK Department for International Development.
The commentary describes the increasing interest from research and communication practitioners, policy makers and funders in expanding the impact of research on policy and practice. It notes the need for contextually embedded understanding of ways to engage multiple stakeholders in the politicized, sensitive and often contested arenas of sexual and reproductive health. The commentary then introduces the papers under their respective themes: (1) The theory and practice of research engagement (two global papers); (2) Applying policy analysis to explore the role of research evidence in SRH and HIV/AIDS policy (two papers with examples from Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia); (3) Strategies and methodologies for engagement (five papers on Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Swaziland respectively); (4) Advocacy and engagement to influence attitudes on controversial elements of sexual health (two papers, Bangladesh and global); and (5) Institutional approaches to inter-sectoral engagement for action and strengthening research communications (two papers, Ghana and global).
The papers illustrate the many forms research impact can take in the field of sexual and reproductive health. This includes discursive changes through carving out legitimate spaces for public debate; content changes such as contributing to changing laws and practices, procedural changes such as influencing how data on SRH are collected, and behavioural changes through partnerships with civil society actors such as advocacy groups and journalists.
The contributions to this supplement provide a body of critical analysis of communication and engagement strategies across the spectrum of SRH and HIV/AIDS research through the testing of different models for the research-to-policy interface. They provide new insights on how researchers and communication specialists can respond to changing policy climates to create windows of opportunity for influence.