Strengthening health systems research to achieve health-related Millennium Development Goals

Nov 15, 2010

A major obstacle to achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals is the weakness of the health systems in many low and middle income countries, and their struggle to effectively provide health care to populations in need. Research into health systems aims to improve health care delivery; however, multiple definitions of this type of research exist and this lack of clarity is negatively affecting the credibility, and hence progress, of this research.

In a paper published in PLoS Medicine this week to coincide with the first Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, Robert Terry and colleagues from the and allied organizations lay out working definitions of the three key research domains within the context of research to strengthen health systems; operational research, implementation research and health systems research.

The three research domains defined are Operational, Implementation, and Health Systems research. Although these research domains overlap frequently, they can be usefully separated out.

Operational research is on specific health programmes, is local in impact, and is targeted at and programme managers. An example cited of such research is whether a programme in Equator Nord province, DRC, should change its first-line drug.

Implementation research may be of local or broad influence, as it affects implementation strategies for specific products or services. It is of relevance to programme managers, and research and development managers. An example of such research is how to improve access to vaccination among children that are currently not reached by immunisation services.

Health systems research is broad in impact, in that it affects some or all of the building blocks of a health system, and hence is of relevant to health system managers, and policy makers. An example of this research would be to what extent do health services reach the poor and how can this reach be improved.

Having clear definitions of these research domains is important so that those who the research affects can understand and build on it, and thus ensure that the research has the maximum possible impact. As the authors conclude "To improve health care delivery to poor populations, all of these research domains are very much needed."

Explore further: AMA examines economic impact of physicians

More information: Remme JHF, Adam T, Becerra-Posada F, D'Arcangues C, Devlin M, et al. (2010) Defining Research to Improve Health Systems. PLoS Med 7(11): e1001000. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001000

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

18 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Teachers' scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores

As the school year winds down and final exams loom, teachers may want to avoid reminding students of the bad consequences of failing a test because doing so could lead to lower scores, according to new research published ...