Operational research in low-income countries: what, why, and how?
The Lancet "Operational research is increasingly being discussed at institutional meetings, donor forums, and scientific conferences, but limited published information exists on its role from a disease-control and programme perspective. We suggest a definition of operational research, clarify its relevance to infectious-disease control programmes, and describe some of the enabling factors and challenges for its integration into programme settings. Particularly in areas where the disease burden is high and resources and time are limited, investment in operational research and promotion of a culture of inquiry are needed so that health care can become more efficient. Thus, research capacity needs to be developed, specific resources allocated, and different stakeholders (academic institutions, national programme managers, and non-governmental organisations) brought together in promoting operational research." (The Lancet, Volume 9, No. 11, p711–717, November 2009)
Is operational research delivering the goods? The journey to success in low-income countries
The Lancet "Operational research in low-income countries has a key role in filling the gap between what we know from research and what we do with that knowledge—the so-called know–do gap, or implementation gap. Planned research that does not tangibly affect policies and practices is ineffective and wasteful, especially in settings where resources are scarce and disease burden is high. Clear parameters are urgently needed to measure and judge the success of operational research. We define operational research and its relation with policy and practice, identify why operational research might fail to affect policy and practice, and offer possible solutions to address these shortcomings. We also propose measures of success for operational research. Adoption and use of these measures could help to ensure that operational research better changes policy and practice and improves health-care delivery and disease programmes." (The Lancet: Volume 12, No. 5, p415–421, May 2012)