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Examples of topics

logoExamples of suggested topics are provided here only to indicate the breadth of topics eligible for inclusion and are not given with the intent of being exhaustive nor to promote submissions on one topic relative to another.


The focus will be on the translation of HSR into policy and practice. In particular we encourage debates and joint presentations by researchers, policy-makers and programme implementers.
Examples of the topics to be explored within this theme's concurrent sessions include:

  • Challenges in ensuring that HSR policies are locally relevant if external funders are the primary source of research funding.
  • The role of evidence in developing health systems policies, highlighting the complexity of the process and including its multiple influences and time frames.
  • How research can be made relevant - e.g. carried out in close collaboration with policy-makers- and at the same time be independent (objective and of high quality).
  • Approaches to ensure research utilization and to ensure continuous and interactive policy monitoring and evaluation.
  • How media (scientific and general) can contribute to the translation of research into action; problems of reporting science in the media; the role of modern social media. Examples and lessons from high income countries.
  • Concrete experiences and practices related to evidence-informed policy-making; country cases with different contextual backgrounds (funder driven vs. locally funded; strong vs. weak/early HSR capacity; strong vs. weak civil society/media, etc.); examples of health systems evidence playing a role in specific policy decisions, and of where evidence failed to contribute to the decision making.
  • Institutional mechanisms to translate evidence into policy, including the regulatory oversight of monitoring agencies and how to insulate them from political interference.
  • Theoretical frameworks and models for health policy development that incorporate evidence generation towards both evidence-based policy development and development-based evidence generation.
  • What are the various levels of knowledge translation -- formulation of policy recommendation; dissemination; policy dialogue; social mobilization; system analysis for implementation of policies.

Cross-cutting topics within innovations in knowledge translation could include:

  • The role of long-running HSR "experiments" as building blocks for future policy decisions. Examples: RAND Corporation insurance experiments; Seguro Popular evaluation in Mexico, etc.
  • Empowering civil society to influence policy process and decisions.
  • The use of health technology assessments for regulatory backing.

Cross-cutting topics within neglected areas of knowledge translation could include:

  • Evidence of what does not work, and what factors helped or hindered the translation of research into policy and practice. Examples where HSR evidence was translated into policy and practice, and where this did not take place despite efforts made, and of missed opportunities.
  • Research on accountability, leadership, and governance; debates on policy needs, goals, and issues. Examples on the adoption, utilization and management of technology, human resources and information system development.
  • Historical perspectives and institutional analysis, e.g which institutions in the health research system are best suited to play crucial roles in ensuring KT for policy development on a continuous basis.

Cross-cutting topics within financing, and building capacity on translation of HSR could include:

  • Developing platforms that facilitate interaction between researchers and policy-makers, resulting in increased capacities to prioritize topics and translate research into policy, and to communicate research results to policy-makers and to the public.
  • Models of inter-sectoral coordination in health systems governance and health systems delivery.
  • Examples of research capacity building among service providers to improve service quality as well as ensuring integrated knowledge translation.


The focus for the day will be on the state-of-the-art health systems research findings.
Examples of the topics to be explored within this theme's concurrent sessions include:

  • Access to primary health care services and commodities; health inequities; results achieved through strengthening community participation and the empowerment of civil society; role of community activism; impact of demand-side strategies.
  • Findings on strategies to strengthen the health workforce; research on motivation and incentives; training and supervision.
  • Systems perspective on access to medicines; dynamic relations between components of the health systems; cross sectoral determinants of access.
  • Impact of decentralization; health reforms in BRICS countries.
  • Revisiting the roles of community involvement in primary health care in light of increasing decentralization, active participatory democracy, and increasing interest in volunteerism (especially in the face of disaster relief). 

Cross-cutting topics within innovations could include:

  • E-health and m-health transformative impact and integration into health systems; use of text messaging and other technologies by the health workforce and the community.
  • Innovative delivery channels, public-private partnerships and other social innovations for access to services and commodities.
  • Novel models of deploying health workforce.
  • Innovative health financing mechanisms.
  • Health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Roles of local government in addressing social determinants of health.

Cross-cutting topics within neglected priorities or groups could include:

  • Long-term illness and non-communicable diseases, including health system configuration around chronic conditions; continuity of care; patient-centered approaches; applicability of chronic disease models of care and linkages with HIV/AIDS chronic care; and successful examples/research of its application and impact.
  • Disadvantaged population groups, their specific barriers to access health services and attain better health; the impact of demand-side strategies; the design of policies to ensure that disadvantaged populations are heard; the delivery of interventions in such a way that they are accessible by disadvantaged groups; human rights and social inclusion.
  • Neglected sectors such as the private sector (formal and informal, profit and not-for profit); partnership models to ensure societal benefits, etc.
  • Information technology standards; research on interactive health communication; health behaviour change strategies, service deliver communication strategies. 

Cross-cutting topics within financing and building capacity on HSR could include:

  • How cross-country research collaborations have improved our knowledge on how to assess effective coverage with essential interventions.
  • How to increase capacity on HSR for mid-career level professionals.
  • Examples of innovative approaches to build capacity for HSR, and research capacity building among service providers to improve service quality and ensure integrated knowledge translation.


The focus of the third and last day of the Symposium will be on HSR methods and measures. This will include topics such as: the conceptual framework of what constitutes implementation research; the importance of social sciences perspectives; new methods to monitor and evaluate programme implementation; the development of specific normative instruments for HSR.
Examples of the topics to be explored within this theme's concurrent sessions include:

  • Mixed methods in HSR, including multi-disciplinary methodology. How to best combine/balance methods to mitigate their respective weaknesses and increase their value.
  • Methodologies and approaches for evaluating health systems strategies such as human resources deployment or interventions to improve governance.
  • How best to evaluate a programme when asked to do so "post-hoc".
  • Best practices in designing and using health information systems.
  • Measurement of coverage -- comparable measures of "effective coverage".
  • Various ways of measuring quality of health services.
  • Research methods for addressing cross-sectoral approaches (health and education, etc).
  • Monitoring/measuring return on HSR investment. 

Cross-cutting topics within innovations could include:

  • Innovative approaches in implementation and operational research.
  • Application of research methodologies to study complex systems.
  • Innovative tools and approaches to evaluate the system-wide effects of health system strengthening interventions.
  • Innovations on methods to evaluate large scale implementation programmes.

Cross-cutting topics within financing and building capacity on HSR could include:

  • How to obtain funding for HSR using cutting-edge research methodologies.
  • HSR curricula, educational and training materials; institutional capacity building; financial viability and stewardship.
  • Identifying informal networks for research education and capacity building; country and regional networks on HSR; effective north-south, south-south and cross-country research collaborations, including with the private sector, to strengthen the field of HSR.


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