Implementation research workshop brings together policy-makers and researchers

TDR news item
3 October 2013

The second of three workshops to pilot the new TDR implementation research tool kit was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh 22-26 September. Twenty-eight participants from Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Malaysia Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka recently completed a test of the new TDR implementation research toolkit. The toolkit is designed to help researchers identify bottlenecks that limit effective delivery and access to medical interventions for those in need of them. It includes modules that cover conceptualization to dissemination and advocacy of the research results.

The workshop required teams of at least one researcher, one policy-maker, and one social scientist, so that they could work together to apply this model to research that has already been funded. The projects covered a range of topics, including community-based programs for influenza surveillance in Tianjin, China; dengue vector control interventions in Sri Lanka; maternal and child health in Pakistan; and tuberculosis case detection in rural Bangladesh.

The workshop was co-hosted by the USAID-supported TRAction project of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh (icddr,b), with 6 of its researchers attending. The institution is looking to expand the use of implementation research (IR), and is exploring the use of the tool kit for future training, in collaboration with the Bangladesh country office of the World Health Organization. “The collaboration was a timely effort for icddr,b to build capacity on IR for future leadership in the south-east Asia region, ” says Dr Aftab Uddin, senior manager of the centre’s technical training unit.

The teams came from different experiences, and each brought perspectives from their countries that illuminated the serious challenges many face, and how the toolkit helped them. These are some of the comments made:

I can see now that ethical considerations are just as important in implementation research as they are in other types of research.

The workshop expanded my understanding of implementation research from the other participants’ experiences, and I better understand the different country contexts.

The case studies were very helpful to see how others have managed operational issues in their countries.

We had never developed a communication and dissemination plan – this was very useful to see how including a broad range of stakeholders from the beginning could speed up the implementation once the research results are in.

The toolkit was created to provide more consistent approaches to this growing field of research. The idea for this came of a project supported by USAID and the WHO Implementation Research Platform. The first step was to look at what kind of training materials were currently available, compare them, analyse the differences, and develop a draft that applies best practices most useful in low- and middle-income countries. The process was overseen at TDR, with a global committee comprising researchers, implementers and funders of implementation projects.

The final workshop will take place in Ghana (25 to 29 November 2013). After that, the experiences of all 3 workshops (the first one took place in Gaborone, Botswana in July) will be used to finalize the toolkit, which will be made available more broadly by the end of 2013. In addition, a new LinkedIn group has been created on implementation research, where a broader discussion on the field is taking place.

For more information, please contact

Dr Olumide Ogundahunsi