Research that influences policy and practice: characteristics of operational research to improve malaria control in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

Durrheim, David N., Speare, Richard, and Harries, Anthony D. (2002) Research that influences policy and practice: characteristics of operational research to improve malaria control in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Malaria Journal, 1 (9). pp. 1-7.

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Abstract

Background

Much communicable disease control research has had little impact on local control programme policy and practice for want of an operational component. The operational research model – the systematic search for knowledge on interventions, tools or strategies that enhance programme effectiveness – is gaining recognition as an appropriate method for addressing perplexing questions within public health programmes. Methods

A series of operational research studies were conducted to refine malaria diagnosis in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa between 1995 and 1999. The grounded theory approach was used with groups of experienced Masters of Public Health students in South Africa and Australia to analyse a compilation of these studies for determining positive and negative attributes of operational research that affect its ability to influence communicable disease control policy and practice. Results

The principal positive attributes of the operational research studies were high local relevance, greater ability to convince local decision-makers, relatively short lag-time before implementation of findings, and the cost-effective nature of this form of research. Potential negative features elicited included opportunities forfeited by using scarce resources to conduct research and the need to adequately train local health staff in research methodology to ensure valid results and accurate interpretation of findings. Conclusions

Operational research effectively influenced disease control policy and practice in rural South Africa, by providing relevant answers to local questions and engaging policy-makers. This resulted in accelerated inclusion of appropriate measures into a local communicable disease control programme.

Item ID: 13616
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: malaria control; operational research model; South Africa
ISSN: 1475-2875
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2010 06:49
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111716 Preventive Medicine @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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