Title

Exploring health researchers' perceptions of policymaking in Argentina: A qualitative study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-1-2014

Journal

Health Policy and Planning

Volume

29

DOI

10.1093/heapol/czu071

Keywords

Argentina; Evidence-based policymaking; Health research systems; Health researchers; Interviews; Qualitative; Research-to-policy

Abstract

© The Author 2014; all rights reserved. Much of the published research on evidence-informed health policymaking in low-and middle-income countries has focused on policymakers, overlooking the role of health researchers in the research-to-policy process. Through 20 semistructured, in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with researchers in Argentina's rural northwest and the capital of Buenos Aires, we explore the perspectives, experiences and attitudes of Argentine health researchers regarding the use and impact of health research in policymaking in Argentina. We find that the researcher, and the researcher's function of generating evidence, is nested within a broader complex system that influences the researcher's interaction with policymaking. This system comprises communities of practice, government departments/civil society organizations, bureaucratic processes and political governance and executive leadership. At the individual level, researcher capacity and determinants of research availability also play a role in contributing to evidence-informed policymaking. In addition, we find a recurrent theme around 'lack of trust' and explore the role of trust within a research system, finding that researchers' distrust towards policymakers and even other researchers are linked inextricably to the sociopolitical history of Argentina, which contributes to shaping researchers' identities in opposition to policymakers. For policymakers, national research councils and funders of national health research systems, this article provides a deeper understanding of researchers' perceptions which can help inform and improve programme design when developing interventions to enhance research utilization and develop equitable and rational health policies. For donors and development agencies interested in health research capacity building and achieving development goals, this research demonstrates a need for investment in building research capacity and training health researchers to interact with the public policy 'world' and enhancing research communications and transferability to decision makers. It also highlights an opportunity to invest in implementation research platforms, such as health policy research and analysis institutions.

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