Health Systems Research in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: A Research Agenda-Setting Exercise

Woodward et al. (2016) full text summary PDF

For which topic were research priorities identified?

health systems research

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?


Why was it conducted at all?

There is increasing interest amongst donors in investing in the health sectors of fragile and conflict-affected states, although there is limited research evidence and research funding to support this. Agreeing priority areas is therefore critical.

What was the objective?

to develop a consultative research agenda and questions for health systems research, providing reflections on the process as well as its output

What was the outcome?

a list of 19 research questions

How long did the research prioritization take?

August 2014 - September 2015

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?

group discussion; survey; webinar; workshop

How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: literature review: collating available published sources that identify research needs or priorities on health systems in FCAS. Step 2: collecting research priorities: via survey and group discussions. Step 3: email consultation: refining and shortlisting research needs, survey results were discussed, participants were asked to answer and discuss questions, research needs found most relevant by at least two participants were then shortlisted, resulting in 47 research needs, further thematic analysis and regrouping of results resulted in list of 26 research needs across ten topics. Step 4: reaching consensus on research agenda: webinar: to present, discuss and create consensus on the research agenda, six research needs and two topics added to agenda. Step 5: developing more specific research questions: workshop: participants were asked to develop research questions based on identified research needs

Which stakeholders took part?

Donors, policymakers, academics, international and local implementers. Survey: 61 participants. Group discussion: 28 participants. Email consultation: 18 participants. Webinar: 65 participants. Workshop: 28 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

The survey was developed and distributed via Bristol Online Surveys. Recommended candidates by the steering committee (N=177) together with readily available contacts of the Health & Fragile States Network3 (N=297) and the ReBUILD Consortium4 (N=27) were approached via email to participate in the survey. An invitation with a link to the survey was also posted on the TWG HS-FCAS LinkedIn group.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders not only participated but were also actively involved in the research prioritization process: They were part of a steering group. The steering group consisted of a core and a broad group with the core group being those able to dedicate more time. The core group consisted of 10 members: mostly academics from the UK. The broad group consisted of 20 members. The core members provided advice on methodology and contextual focus of the needs. The broad members were involved in pilot study.