Identification of Priority Research Questions in LAC within the Areas of Health Financing, Human Resources for Health and the Role of the Non-State Sector

Urcullo et al. (2008) full text summary PDF

For which topic were research priorities identified?

health financing, human resources for health

In which location was the research priority setting conducted?

South America

Why was it conducted at all?

A health sector reform requires the application of knowledge to address the many questions that invariably arise during the process. Reforms should use such findings to advise them as they formulate policies, design programs, and make decisions. However, in many cases this type of knowledge is unavailable or is not applied by regulatory agencies. This phenomenon explains the disconnect between health sector research and the policies implemented in the attempt to achieve health sector goals. Paradoxically, in the world and in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in particular, there is a marked lack of data regarding the functioning of health systems and how public policies affect their performance. Therefore there is ample opportunity to develop research applicable to public health policies.

What was the objective?

to identify the priorities for public health research currently being carried out in each country, and to identify the priorities for public health research as identified by key stakeholders

What was the outcome?

a list of 33 research topics

How long did the research prioritization take?

4 months

Which methods were used to identify research priorities?


How were the priorities for research identified exactly?

Step 1: survey: participants were asked: What are the 5 main topics that are being investigated at national research centers? What are the 5 main research topics required for the design of public health policies?, lists of pre-defined policy/research priorities were provided, participants were asked to rank top 5

Which stakeholders took part?

Policymakers, researchers. 81 participants.

How were stakeholders recruited?

The project team selected 7 policymakers with the following criteria: 2 high-level decision makers at the ministries of health; 1 health sector officer at the ministries of finance or planning; 1 member of the national congresses' health commissions; 2 members of health professionals associations, such as medical programs or nursing schools; and 1 member of international development and donor organizations (WHO/PAHO, USAID, IDB, World Bank). The 2 researchers were selected from public health schools or universities.

Were stakeholders actively involved or did they just participate?

Stakeholders were mere participants of the research prioritization process; they were not actively involved in the process.