Evaluating knowledge-translation platforms in low- and middle-income countries
The health status of citizens can suffer when poorly considered policies and programs weaken or fail to strengthen health systems and when health systems fail to ensure the safe, efficient, and equitable delivery of effective programs, services, and technologies. A number of units around the world are experimenting with efforts to address the challenges of linking research evidence to policy about health systems. We call these units ’knowledge-translation (KT) platforms’ because they seek to convert the knowledge arising from research into the types of action on the ground that can mean the difference between life and death or the difference between good health and bad health.
The “Evaluating Knowledge-Translation Platforms in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (KTPE)” project was initiated in 2009 to evaluate KT platforms that are being launched in municipalities (e.g., Beijing), countries (e.g., Mexico), and regions (e.g., east Africa) around the world. The study is describing what these KT platforms are doing, which of their efforts can be improved, and which combinations of their activities and outputs can be matched to particular contexts and (infra)structure in order to optimize desired outcomes and impact.
With financial support from the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, we have developed a Procedures Manual to support monitoring and evaluation (M&E) teams in the participating jurisdictions.The methods and toolkits found in the Procedures Manual have been field tested in a number of jurisdictions in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The full suite of toolkits are available in English, French and Spanish, and some of them are also available in Arabic.
These methods and tools constitute a valuable resources for health system policymakers, stakeholders and researchers who are interested in promoting and evaluating supports to evidence-informed health systems (such as KT platforms) or who wish simply to undertake and evaluate a key activity of such platforms – for example a priority-setting process, a policy dialogue on a priority health or health systems issue, or an evidence brief that mobilizes research evidence about a problem, options for addressing it, and key implementation considerations.
The Procedures Manual is available in four sections: Overview, Formative Evaluation, Outcomes Evaluation, and Annual Profile and Inventory. The Overview outlines the objectives of the KTPE study and the overall monitoring and evaluation plan, while each of the other sections offers a detailed description of the tasks and tools that teams in each KT platform jurisdiction will use:
- to evaluate the three most innovative activities – namely priority-setting processes, evidence briefs, and policy dialogues – organized by each KT platform (Formative Evaluation);
- to document annually the activities and outputs of each KT platform, as well as the (infra)structural and contextual factors that may affect the relationships among activities, outputs, and (eventually) outcomes and impact (Annual Inventory & Profile); and
- to evaluate, at three points in time, the following outcomes in each KT platform jurisdiction: availability of research evidence about high-priority policy issues, whether relationships among policymakers, researchers, and KT specialists have been developed and strengthened, and whether policymakers' capacity to support the use of health research evidence in health systems policymaking has been strengthened (Outcomes Evaluation).
The tools used in the Formative Evaluation, Annual Inventory & Profile, and the Outcomes Evaluation are included as appendices in the Procedures Manual. They are also available below in a series of eight toolkits.
Toolkit 1: Policy briefs | Toolkit 2: Policy dialogues | Toolkit 3: Priority-setting processes | Toolkit 4: T1 annual profile and inventory | Toolkit 5: Tracking requests for information and support | Toolkit 6: T2/T3/T4 annual profile and inventory | Toolkit 7: T1 outcomes survey | Toolkit 8: T2&3 outcomes survey
Funding for the KTPE study has been provided by Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Health Policies and Systems, Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, and the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Translation of the Procedures Manual and toolkits into French and Spanish was supported by the Pan American Health Organization and the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, respectively, and translation of select toolkits into Arabic was undertaken by the K2P Center at the American University of Beirut.