LSTM Home > LSTM Research > LSTM Online Archive

Tackling the tensions in evaluating capacity strengthening for health research in low- and middle-income countries

Bates, Imelda ORCID:, Boyd, Alan, Aslanyan, Garry and Cole, Donald C. (2014) 'Tackling the tensions in evaluating capacity strengthening for health research in low- and middle-income countries'. Health Policy and Planning, Vol 30, Issue 3, pp. 334-344.

heapolandplan_2014_czu016.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (176kB)


Strengthening research capacity in low- and middle-income countries is one of the most effective ways of advancing their health and development but the complexity and heterogeneity of health research capacity strengthening (RCS) initiatives means it is difficult to evaluate their effectiveness. Our study aimed to enhance understanding about these difficulties and to make recommendations about how to make health RCS evaluations more effective. Through discussions and surveys of health RCS funders, including the ESSENCE on Health Research initiative, we identified themes that were important to health RCS funders and used these to guide a systematic analysis of their evaluation reports. Eighteen reports, produced between 2000 and 2013, representing 12 evaluations, were purposefully selected from 54 reports provided by the funders to provide maximum variety. Text from the reports was extracted independently by two authors against a pre-designed framework. Information about the health RCS approaches, tensions and suggested solutions was re-constructed into a narrative. Throughout the process contacts in the health RCS funder agencies were involved in helping us to validate and interpret our results. The focus of the health RCS evaluations ranged from individuals and institutions to national, regional and global levels. Our analysis identified tensions around how much stakeholders should participate in an evaluation, the appropriate balance between measuring and learning and between a focus on short-term processes vs longer-term impact and sustainability. Suggested solutions to these tensions included early and ongoing stakeholder engagement in planning and evaluating health RCS, modelling of impact pathways and rapid assimilation of lessons learned for continuous improvement of decision making and programming. The use of developmental approaches could improve health RCS evaluations by addressing common tensions and promoting sustainability. Sharing learning about how to do robust and useful health RCS evaluations should happen alongside, not after, health RCS efforts.

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):
Depositing User: Tina Bowers
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2014 09:07
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 08:22


View details

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item