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Indicators for tracking programmes to strengthen health research capacity in lower- and middle-income countries: a qualitative synthesis

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Cole, Donald C, Boyd, Alan, Aslanyan, Garry and Bates, Imelda ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0862-8199 (2014) 'Indicators for tracking programmes to strengthen health research capacity in lower- and middle-income countries: a qualitative synthesis'. Health Research Policy and Systems, Vol 12, Issue 1, p. 17.

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Abstract

Background
The monitoring and evaluation of health research capacity strengthening (health RCS)
commonly involves documenting activities and outputs using indicators or metrics. We
sought to catalogue the types of indicators being used to evaluate health RCS and to assess
potential gaps in quality and coverage.
Methods
We purposively selected twelve evaluations to maximize diversity in health RCS, funders,
countries, and approaches to evaluation. We explored the quality of the indicators and
extracted them into a matrix across individual, institutional, and national/regional/network
levels, based on a matrix in the ESSENCE Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation framework.
We synthesized across potential impact pathways (activities to outputs to outcomes) and
iteratively checked our findings with key health RCS evaluation stakeholders. Results
Evaluations varied remarkably in the strengths of their evaluation designs. The validity of
indicators and potential biases were documented in a minority of reports. Indicators were
primarily of activities, outputs, or outcomes, with little on their inter-relationships. Individual
level indicators tended to be more quantitative, comparable, and attentive to equity
considerations. Institutional and national–international level indicators were extremely
diverse. Although linkage of activities through outputs to outcomes within evaluations was
limited, across the evaluations we were able to construct potential pathways of change and
assemble corresponding indicators.
Conclusions
Opportunities for improving health RCS evaluations include work on indicator measurement
properties and development of indicators which better encompass relationships with
knowledge users. Greater attention to evaluation design, prospective indicator measurement,
and systematic linkage of indicators in keeping with theories of change could provide more
robust evidence on outcomes of health RCS.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: W General Medicine. Health Professions > Health Services. Patients and Patient Advocacy > W 84 Health services. Delivery of health care
WA Public Health > WA 20.5 Research (General)
WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1186/1478-4505-12-17
Depositing User: Tina Bowers
Date Deposited: 01 May 2014 12:27
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 08:22
URI: https://archive.lstmed.ac.uk/id/eprint/3663

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