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The use of research in international organizations' recommendations and their impact on health policy in a sample of low- and middle-income countries

Date: Poster sessions
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Sara Bennett, Manager, Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, Switzerland
with Steven Hoffman and John Lavis


Recommendations from international organizations are an important mediator between research and action for the many low- and middle-income countries that rely on them. In order for these countries to best utilize their limited resources, international organizations must link research to action by basing their recommendations on the highest quality research and share them effectively with those who can act on them. An effective partnership among international organizations, the research community, and developing countries is required to ensure that opportunities for improving equitable access to global health are not squandered. Nevertheless, previous research suggests that some international organizations may not be using research consistently in the formulation of their recommendations.

This study sought to examine the extent to which research informs the recommendations of two prominent international organizations ­ the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank ­ and the subsequent influence of these recommendations on national health policy-making in a sample of low- and middle- income countries.

Specific WHO and World Bank recommendations were identified and categorized along with available research using two taxonomies (applicability to different country contexts and type of recommendation). Questionnaires were distributed (in collaboration with WHO's Department of Knowledge Management and Sharing) that asked key informants, including senior government and civil society representatives from 39 countries, to assess the influence of five sampled World Health Assembly resolutions on the policy-making process in their country.

Preliminary analyses suggest that the identified recommendations rarely cite research in the form of systematic reviews. Ongoing analyses involve comparing the recommendations to the research available at the time of their development. The survey is currently in the field but once the dataset is complete the influence of these recommendations on national health policy-making in a sample of low- and middle- income countries will be described using descriptive statistics.

This research will provide a basis for promoting partnerships among researchers, nongovernmental organizations, international organizations and other knowledge brokers to encourage the use of research in developing both recommendations at the international level and health policies at the country level.