the art of structuring and writing a health policy analysis pdf

The art of structuring and writing a health policy analysis pdf

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Contemporary Communication Research Methods Pdf. Method: A broad search of computerized databases focusing on articles published in English during — was completed. Research question is the central question of the study that has to be answered on the basis of research findings. Therefore we have omitted in this paper to describe research projects in Fine Art and Design areas refer to cited papers , preferring to focus on those which are Crafts-based.

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PLoS Med 8 8 : e This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Three Policy Forum articles, authored by a diverse group of global health academics, critically examine the current challenges to the field and lay out what is needed to build capacity in HPSR and support local policy development and health systems strengthening, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Paper 1. Kabir Sheikh and colleagues. Paper 2. Lucy Gilson and colleagues. Paper 3. Sara Bennett and colleagues. The First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, held in Montreux, Switzerland, in November , is the most recent of a succession of conferences and task force deliberations that have spun off a series of debates about the nature of the field and the future directions it should take.

Establishing the identity and terrain of HPSR is part of these debates, which is made difficult by the fact that it is an essentially multidisciplinary field delimited not by methodology but by the topic and scope of research questions asked.

In this paper, the first of a series of three addressing the current challenges and opportunities for the development of HPSR, we introduce and map the types of research questions that it has addressed over its natural course of evolution, analyze the nature of current heightened attention, and highlight emerging opportunities and challenges for the development of the field.

For us, the broader term better captures the terrain of work it encompasses because it explicitly identifies the interconnections between policy and systems, and highlights the social and political nature of the field.

The geographical focus of our concern is low- and middle-income countries LMICs [1] , but we suggest that our approach also has value for high-income countries. Our understanding of the evolution of HPSR draws primarily from the English language literature, which we acknowledge as a limitation. However, this reflects global discussion about the field, which has tended to neglect literature in other languages. Compared to other health research traditions, HPSR has a short but eclectic history.

Many of the researchers who have led its development have brought social science perspectives, including health economics, sociology, political science, and anthropology, complementing the contributions of individuals and institutions engaged in delivering health services. A rearview look at these diverse antecedents reveals that HPSR has taken form from, and continues to be shaped by, questions bubbling up from the field—whether those asked by curious social scientists and observers drawn to the complexity of health systems and seeking to support change within them, or by public health specialists and health systems actors impelled to resolve practical concerns of service delivery.

The state of HPSR in terms of methodological sophistication and advances results both from the independent contributions of discrete traditions of enquiry, as well as from the mixing of disciplinary influences—it is simultaneously, therefore, a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary field. Figure 1 illustrates how understanding of subjects of inquiry in HPSR varies depending on the perspective taken [2].

Health policy is commonly seen as the formal written documents, rules, and guidelines that present policy makers' decisions about what actions are deemed legitimate and necessary to strengthen the health system and improve health.

Increasingly, however, it has been understood to encompass, importantly, the processes of decision-making at all levels of the health system and the wider influences that underpin the prioritisation of policy issues, the formulation of policy, the processes of bringing them alive in practice, and their evaluation [3].

Definitions of health systems, meanwhile, have been based mainly on their utility in the achievement of health outcomes. It also recognises that the system encompasses both the suppliers of policy, services, and interventions, and the communities and households intended to benefit from them who, as citizens, also play important roles in policy change.

Alternative formulations of complex health systems have been influenced by economic theories of markets and political institutionalism, drawing attention to non-linear and dynamic relationships between different parts of health systems, and to the role of software and its interplay with the visible and quantifiable hardware of systems [5] , [6].

Finally, the influence of discursive and critical theory, through contributions from policy analysis and sociology, have brought an emerging recognition that health systems and policies are artifices of human creation, embedded in social and political reality and shaped by particular, culturally determined ways of framing problems and solutions [7] , [8].

Acknowledgement of these influences was another reason for our choice of field name, and has radical implications for research, and also for how we envision change in systems. International, national, subnational provincial , and local arenas, as well as their respective intersections, are each equally part of this broader conception of the constructed reality of health systems, with the local arena encompassing not only delivery of services, but also the worlds of health providers; activities of provision, protection, and promotion of health in local communities and households; and systems of local health governance.

The range of questions encompassed by HPSR is broad. In the first place, there are different levels of analysis—macro-level analysis analyzes the architecture and oversight of systems, meso-level analysis focuses on the functioning of organizations and systemic interventions, and micro-level analysis considers the roles of individuals involved in activities of health provision, utilization, and governance, and how systems respectively shape and are shaped by their decisions and behaviour.

Table 1 maps types of questions, with indicative examples, according to the level and intent of analysis—this may be seen as a step towards constructing a broad church or mosque, or temple for HPSR. The recent upsurge of interest in HPSR, whilst partly a culmination of the efforts of earlier generations of researchers, owes much to recognition of its importance for the success of health interventions and programmes, and the changing macroeconomic environment of international health.

As funding for health scaled up during the period —, it became evident that Millennium Development Goal targets would not be achieved due to weak health systems. Specific departments within international organizations, such as the Health Systems and Services cluster at WHO, were established and new research organizations focusing on health systems research, such as the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, emerged.

During the past decade a series of conferences and task forces on health research, including the International Conference on Health Research for Development, Bangkok, , and ministerial meetings in Mexico City in and Bamako in , had a strong focus on practical, operational questions, and this was frequently framed as health systems research.

In addition to these global trends, innovative health reforms in emerging economies such as Brazil, China, India, and Thailand have created enthusiasm around the scope for system-level interventions. The upsurge in interest is a reflection of the wide-ranging relevance of HPSR, as well as a commentary on the overdue need for the elevation of this research field to the stature of the dominant traditions of health research.

There are numerous potential benefits of the current concern, for the future of the field:. However, the combination of heightened attention in a short span of time with the differing interests of involved actors has altered how HPSR is perceived and framed in the present day. In itself this presents significant threats for the balanced and holistic development of the field—three of the most important threats are discussed here.

HPSR has previously played an important role in exploring the societal relevance and purpose of systems and interventions, and helping shape systems values [10] , [11]. Another important potential function of HPSR is to examine software elements such as power and trust that have been demonstrated to be key determinants of health systems performance, and success of health policies [12] , [13].

However, the current focus of the field of research is frequently framed around the hardware of health systems, and less around its software See Figure 1. This is underpinned by the dominance of the positivist paradigm of knowledge which, with its claims to value-neutrality, has led to health systems being seen primarily as vehicles for technological solutions rather than being grounded in political and social contexts with underlying power structures, interests, and interdependencies. Secondly, particular arenas of health policy and systems remain poorly addressed.

The current framing of HPSR has tended to foreground issues around the delivery of specific interventions and services often specific programmes of disease control, and often driven by global actors and agendas rather than the existing national and sub-national systems and institutions through which they are administered.

The influence of local political cultures and practices over system performance is another critical area of neglect in HPSR—yet organizational ethos and inter-organizational relationships are key determinants of how and whether policies get implemented. Finally, the current framing of HPSR has broadly been skewed towards short-term pragmatic and operational questions, rather than being oriented towards theoretical development.

The dominant trend of donor-driven HPSR with an emphasis on addressing operational needs could have the effect of undermining the capabilities of research and academic organizations to address more fundamental, exploratory, and explanatory questions around the character and relevance of health policies and systems in real-world social and political contexts [14].

The stakeholders—including researchers, funders, and journal editors—who are converging on HPSR, come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. In this plural field, probably the most significant risk to its development lies in the lack of mutual understanding and respect across the range of contributory disciplines. In HPSR, as in health research in general, the dominant group of actors in terms of both volume and influence are those involved in the delivery of health services primarily medical professionals.

These actors work mainly in the frame of the dominant health research traditions—including epidemiological, biomedical, and clinical research—and commonly employ a positivist paradigm of knowledge [15]. Disciplinary capture may occur if this knowledge frame, with its attendant criteria of research quality, is superimposed on the entire field for want of a wider understanding of alternative paradigms of knowledge.

The quantitative methods and measures commonly used in these dominant health research fields may be over-utilised in the service of HPSR questions, where qualitative, inductive, or participatory methods may work better. Frequently too, the rigour of HPSR is assessed with inappropriate standards, extrapolated from the dominant research traditions [15]. As HPSR is beginning to take shape from its multitude of influences, there is an undoubted and widely acknowledged need to enhance clarity and consensus on research methods, and deepen the theoretical foundations of the field.

Prevailing attempts to characterize the field have broadly focused on offering definitions of HPSR, sometimes seeking to distinguish it from related areas of research [16]. It is argued that these definitional attempts have utility in guiding the allocation of global funds.

In addition to militating against the hitherto inclusive, question-driven ethos of the field, such territorial approaches also present significant problems when definitions are inappropriately narrow or incomplete Box 1. Furthermore, LMIC health systems are also changing rapidly, and moves to delimit the field with narrow definitions may well be short-sighted. Emerging phenomena such as the changing roles of health care professionals, increasing health literacy, commercialization of health, and technological innovation—for information and communication, diagnosis, and treatment—will each pose new questions, necessitating a relatively open-ended outlook on the topics and approaches of enquiry constituting HPSR [17] — [20].

HPSR owes much of its present-day prominence to its utility in supporting the effective implementation of health interventions and programmes. Consequently, in the broader schema of health research, research questions pertaining to health policy and systems have tended to occupy the position of being secondary or subsequent to the primary scientific-technical question. It is important to recognize that HPSR does not exist only for reasons of its usefulness in addressing the constraints of specific health interventions, nor does it need to mimic the systems of knowledge generation prevalent in the dominant health research traditions.

HPSR may logically be conceptualised in a complementary and equivalent , not subordinate, position to the other health research traditions in the quest for solutions to health concerns.

It is a free-standing field of research with diverse, serious goals including supporting societal development and self-sufficiency of nations and communities in the long term, and examining the appropriateness of scientific-technical solutions when applied in real-world contexts [21].

HPSR should have room for multiple foci of enquiry and types of research questions, and a wide spectrum of methodological approaches. The normative and evaluative functions of HPSR are well established, but there is also scope in HPSR for more fundamental, exploratory, and explanatory questions. Acceptance of and support for fundamental research is an important signifier of the maturation and wholeness of a field. Fundamental research has instrumental value in aiding health systems performance, and also serves long-term developmental goals.

It is essential in shaping policy, and is the basis for a body of reference knowledge and a firm theoretical platform—baselines on which future researchers can build. While the awakening of interest in HPSR contains great opportunities, we are also concerned that the disciplinary biases, premature enunciation of definitions, and the skewed balance of questions currently prioritised within HPSR weakens rather than strengthens the field, and so could undermine its potential to facilitate long-term goals of societal development.

The practical challenges ahead, particularly as we seek to build capacity for HPSR in LMICs, include balanced growth and promoting wider literacy of the inherent diversity and varied potentialities of the field.

These questions are addressed in the two forthcoming papers in this series. Funding: No specific funding was received for writing this article. HPSR is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary field identified by the topics and scope of questions asked rather than by methodology. The focus of discussion is HPSR in low- and middle-income countries. Topics of research in HPSR include international, national, and local health systems and their interconnectivities, and policies made and implemented at all levels of the health system.

We call for greater attention to fundamental, exploratory, and explanatory types of HPSR; to the significance of the field for societal and national development, necessitating HPSR capacity building in low- and middle-income countries; and for greater literacy and application of a wide spectrum of methodologies. Download: PPT. Figure 1. Health policy and systems: alternative perspectives. Table 1.

Examples of HPSR questions by level of analysis and type of question. The New Interest in HPSR The recent upsurge of interest in HPSR, whilst partly a culmination of the efforts of earlier generations of researchers, owes much to recognition of its importance for the success of health interventions and programmes, and the changing macroeconomic environment of international health.

There are numerous potential benefits of the current concern, for the future of the field: New insights into key problems and focus areas, particularly resulting from the participation of actors representing the clinical and epidemiological sciences, and from reflection on operational and service delivery experiences.

Opportunities for development of a range of new research methodologies drawing from diverse disciplinary perspectives. Skewed Balance in Focus Areas and Questions HPSR has previously played an important role in exploring the societal relevance and purpose of systems and interventions, and helping shape systems values [10] , [11].

Inappropriate Definitions As HPSR is beginning to take shape from its multitude of influences, there is an undoubted and widely acknowledged need to enhance clarity and consensus on research methods, and deepen the theoretical foundations of the field. Box 1. Narrow Definitions: Two Case Studies. Implementation Research: In the world of public policy analysis, research on implementation is a far-reaching terrain of work synonymous with the study of governance, clearly a central element of HPSR.

Implementation research in this understanding is a four-decade-old field built on a wide foundation of empirical and theoretical work, propelled by vibrant debates between top-down and action-centered or bottom-up thinking.

However, current definitions of Implementation Research IR in recent influential articles appear to overlook this entire paradigm and the extensive body of research within it [16]. IR in this interpretation focuses on the concerns of programme managers regarding the effectiveness of specific health interventions.

In restricting IR to the objective of facilitating predetermined programmatic solutions, a broad terrain of understanding and research is effectively reduced to a topic area with a predominant top-down focus.

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Summary: Public opinion polls, media coverage, legal disputes, and policy debates at all levels of government and in private industry - debates ranging from the health of the national economy to the health of state populations to the health of a single individual sickened by Ebola hemorrhagic fever - attest to the important place that individual health care and public health hold in the minds of the American public, policymakers, and lawmakers. Indeed, the range of topics covered by the legal disputes and policy debates is breathtaking. For example, how should finite financial resources be allocated between health care and public health? What kind of return in terms of quality of individual care and the overall health of the population should we expect from the staggering amount of money we collectively spend on health? Should individuals have a legal entitlement to health insurance?

Policy analysis is a technique used in public administration to enable civil servants , activists , and others to examine and evaluate the available options to implement the goals of laws and elected officials. The process is also used in the administration of large organizations with complex policies. It has been defined as the process of "determining which of various policies will achieve a given set of goals in light of the relations between the policies and the goals. Policy analysis can be divided [ by whom? The areas of interest and the purpose of analysis determine what types of analysis are conducted. A combination of two kinds of policy analyses together with program evaluation is defined as policy studies. Policy analysis has its roots in systems analysis , an approach used by United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara [4] in the s.

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Policy analysis , evaluation and study of the formulation, adoption, and implementation of a principle or course of action intended to ameliorate economic, social, or other public issues. Policy analysis is concerned primarily with policy alternatives that are expected to produce novel solutions. Policy analysis requires careful systematic and empirical study. The complexities of policy analysis have contributed to the development and growth of policy science, which applies a variety of theories and tools from the hard sciences e.

How might the problem statement differ if your client is a pharmaceutical lobbying group, on the one hand, and an elder rights association on the other? Policy analyses involve public policy decisions. Introduction to 'The Crucible' Set in , The Crucible is a play written by Arthur Miller that tells a story centering around witchcraft inside a puritanical community. These proposals may be solutions to identified problems, but they are often favored projects of policymakers or advocates that exist separate from specific problems that have garnered attention. Here are two possible problem statements.

Health Policy is intended to be a vehicle for the exploration and discussion of health policy and health system issues and is aimed in particular at enhancing communication between health policy and system researchers, legislators, decision-makers and professionals concerned with developing, implementing, and analysing health policy, health systems and health care reforms, primarily in high-income countries outside the U. Health care policies and reforms are made at an ever-increasing pace in countries around the world - and policy-makers are increasingly looking to other countries for solutions to their own problems. Health Policy is committed to support this international dialogue to ensure that policies are not just copied but used and adapted based on the specific problems and objectives as well as the respective context. The journal encourages the submission of short, full-length, comparative and review articles as well as groups of articles in "special sections" which address: What is happening in terms of policies, reforms, regulation etc.

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PLoS Med 8 8 : e This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


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