Ronel Visser, Director of Health Systems Trust's Health Systems Strengthening Unit, attended a panel discussion that focused on identifying the challenges and opportunities for improving uptake of evidence in the journey from research to policy and practice.
The panellists' key observation was if researchers do not formulate a pivotal question – based on the policy-makers' and practitioners' requirements for new knowledge – from which a valid hypothesis and related intervention can be focused, the investigation will lack relevance for policy development and implementation.
In such instances, quantitative and qualitative findings that may be valuable on some grounds are not applicable for specific policy measurement, improvement or efficacy goals – and therefore are not or cannot be used as intended.
An ill-informed or inadequately defined research question lacks the contextual foundation needed to make decisions on the scope, study sample, objectives, methodology and desired data for collection and analysis. These decisions will in turn guide choices for administration and general resourcing of the project in terms of technical expertise, time and money. Overall, the successful design of an appropriate investigation hinges on a sound research question.
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