Research and Evaluation
Class instructor and Student. Photo by Brian Donnelly
CHS and its affiliate University Research Co., LLC (URC) use data-driven approaches to achieve results and improve health outcomes; such data are garnered through research and evaluation (R&E). We embed research into our programs to find practical solutions to problems. We conduct comprehensive evaluations to create implementation strategies, based on previous experiences and known challenges, to 1) modify specific plans and identify best practices for expansion and 2) determine changes occurring as a result of our programs. Evidence generated by R&E is also used to:
- Develop innovations for increasing demand for services and improving health care;
- Cost-effectively scale up evidence-based guidelines and best practices;
- Motivate health workers, engaging their intelligence, energy, creativity, and commitment to achieve their best possible performance;
- Advocate for policy change; and
- Provide context-specific recommendations that will achieve public health results.
We design targeted research to help answer key operational questions, such as how to improve the use of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria and how to set standards for programs for vulnerable children and families. We worked with the World Health Organization and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics to evaluate the effectiveness of a job aid to help community health workers maintain their performance in using rapid diagnostic tests for malaria. Through operations research, we have identified indicators of quality to help The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) monitor and evaluate HIV programs.
URC manages two USAID-funded projects with significant R&E elements—the Health Care Improvement Project (HCI) and the Translating Research into Action (TRAction) Project. HCI supports a focused program of R&E related to the spread and institutionalization of best practices and improvement methods. HCI’s R&E work assesses the outcomes from applying quality improvement (QI) methods, improves the efficiency of QI interventions, adapts QI methods to community-level services, enhances QI team performance, and documents the cost implications of QI interventions. USAID recognized HCI for having one of the best evaluation reports undertaken by a USAID-funded project. The winning report evaluated the results of 27 HCI-managed health care improvement interventions in low- and middle-income countries.
TRAction funds studies to develop, test, and compare approaches to more effectively deliver health interventions, increase utilization and coverage, and scale up evidence-based interventions for priority health problems. Through implementation research, the project addresses “know-do” gaps: the delays between the discovery of effective ways to combat the causes of poor health and the application of such interventions on a wide scale. TRAction emphasizes local ownership and partnerships in order to scale up equitable and sustainable efforts to “do what works.”
CHS and URC also strengthen routine program monitoring systems so that managers and providers can use data to evaluate programs and identify achievements and shortcomings. In Ghana, our Promoting Malaria Prevention and Treatment (ProMPT) Project assists the National Malaria Control Program to strengthen the health system response to malaria by bringing together Health Information Officers and supervisors in regular data quality review meetings. The project also sponsors the National Malaria Surveillance Monitoring and Evaluation Group as a forum where partners can share information and develop plans.
Bridging the “Know-Do” Gap
CHS seeks to ensure that our studies and projects provide multiple opportunities for learning. We promote wider awareness of findings and lessons learned through a variety of channels, including publications, meetings, conference presentations, the Internet, briefings, and peer-reviewed journals.
With several highly trained researchers on staff, many affiliated with world-renowned research institutions, URC has published articles in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including the International Journal for Quality in Health Care; International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics; Implementation Science; European Biopharmaceutical Review; Patient Education and Counseling; Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition; BMC International Health and Human Rights; AIDS Care; Malaria Journal; and the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
To read our peer-reviewed journal articles and evaluation reports, please click here.