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Table 1 Different degrees of cross-disciplinary integration in health policy and systems research

From: A critical realist synthesis of cross-disciplinary health policy and systems research: defining characteristic features, developing an evaluation framework and identifying challenges

Domain Low Cross-disciplinarity Medium High
MDHPSR IDHPSR TDHPSR
Context •Applicable to health problems beyond the scope of traditional approaches [13, 19, 20, 23, 57, 70]
•Disparate and discipline-specific research questions and goals [19, 20, 57]
•Conceived in silos but towards a common problem [13, 23, 57, 70, 75]
•Applicable to health problems beyond the scope of traditional approaches [19, 22, 55,56,57, 64, 69, 70, 74]
•Shared/mutually agreed-upon research questions and goals with interdisciplinary representation [19, 22, 57, 69]
•Conceived based on synergy of perspectives from different disciplines [22, 29, 55,56,57, 64, 70, 74, 75]
•Applicable to health problems beyond the scope of traditional approaches [20, 59, 67, 70]
• Shared/mutually agreed-upon research questions and goals that transcend disciplinary bases [20, 59, 67]
•Conceived based on continuous learning and actionable insights beyond disciplinary boundaries [20, 67, 70]
Mechanism •Integration means combining findings of individual studies conducted from different disciplinary insights [13, 21, 23, 70, 75]
•Disparate intra-disciplinary investigators or teams working from their specific disciplinary perspectives [20, 21, 23]
•Separate/parallel intra-disciplinary theoretical and methodological frameworks [20, 23, 73]
•Integration means collaboration between disciplines [22, 55, 56, 64, 73, 76]
•Relatively basic scientific team [22, 56, 73]
•Co-design, co-investigation and co-creation limited to participating disciplines [22, 57, 74]
•Philosophy of transient and intermittent conceptual, theoretical and methodological integration [55, 75]
•Focuses on explicit exchange of perspectives, concepts and methods [68, 74], reciprocal discipline-specific action [54, 60]
•Integration traverse stakeholder, disciplinary, organisational and professional boundaries [20, 53, 59, 67]
•Formative scientific team [20, 52, 77]
•Co-design, co-investigation and co-creation over disciplinary limits [20, 52, 67, 74]
•Philosophy of flexibility and ongoing integration in response to new information about the problem [20, 28, 74]
•Reflects robust systematic interplay between research stakeholders (academic and non-academic) and elements (design, data collection and analysis) of the research [20, 76, 78]
Outcome •More basic than action-oriented output [13, 75, 79]
•Output is the sum of individual evaluations [21, 23, 70]
•Diverse perspectives to the topic being studied [13, 21, 23, 54]
•More comprehensive outcomes than individual parts [22, 55,56,57, 64, 69]
•Middle-range output effectiveness and impact on problem [52, 67, 73, 75]
•Grand-scale outcome, more comprehensive and impactful [52, 67, 71, 73]
•User-centred, action-oriented output [76, 77, 80]
•Co-created, wholly shared reality and meaning [67, 80]
•Creation of new integrated discipline [20, 67, 78]
  1. IDHPSR interdisciplinary health policy and systems research, MDHPSR multidisciplinary health policy and systems research, TDHPSR transdisciplinary health policy and systems research