- Open Access
Strengthening the research to policy and practice interface: exploring strategies used by research organisations working on sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS
© Theobald et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011
- Published: 16 June 2011
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.
This article has been published as part of Health Research Policy and Systems Volume 9 Supplement 1, 2011: Strengthening the research to policy and practice interface: Exploring strategies used by research organisations working on sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. The full contents of the supplement are available online at http://www.health-policy-systems.com/supplements/9/S1.
- Sumner A, Crichton J, Theobald S, Zulu E, Parkhurst J: What shapes research impact on policy: Understanding research uptake in SRH policy processes in resource poor contexts. Health Research Policy and Systems. 2011, 9 (Suppl 1): S3-10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S3.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Crichton J, Theobald S: Strategies and Tensions in Communicating Research on Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and AIDS: A Qualitative study of the experiences of researchers and communications staff. Health Research Policy and Systems. 2011, 9 (Suppl 1): S4-10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S4.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
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- Rashid SF, Standing H, Mohiuddin M, Mahjabeen A: Creating a Public Space and Dialogue on Sexuality and Rights: A Case Study from Bangladesh. Health Research Policy and Systems. 2011, 9 (Suppl 1): S12-10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S12.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Knerr W, Philpott A: Strange bedfellows: Bridging the worlds of academia, public health and the sex industry to improve sexual health outcomes. Health Research Policy and Systems. 2011, 9 (Suppl 1): S13-10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S13.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Gyapong JO, Selby RA, Anakwah KA: Challenges in linking health research to policy: A commentary on developing a multi-stakeholder response to orphans and vulnerable children in Ghana. Health Research Policy and Systems. 2011, 9 (Suppl 1): S14-10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S14.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
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- Young J, Mendizabal E: Helping researchers become policy entrepreneurs: How to develop engagement strategies for evidence-based policy. ODI Briefing Paper No.53. 2009Google Scholar
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