How do researchers influence decision-makers? Case studies of Mexican policies on AIDS, cholera, family planning, and immunization
Trostle,James A.; Bronfman,Mario; Langer,Ana
Health Policy and Planning 14(2): 103-114
Publication date: 1999
Though the problems translating or applying research in policy-making arelegion, solutions are rare. As developing countries increase theircapacities to develop effective local solutions to their health problems,they confront the research/policy dilemma. Yet few descriptive studies ofresearch-policy links can be found from developing countries, and therelevance of European and North American models and data is questionable.Wereport the results of a descriptive study from Mexico of the relationshipbetween health research and policy in four vertical programmes (AIDS,cholera, family planning, immunization). We interviewed 67 researchers andpolicy-makers from different institutions and levels of responsibility.Weanalyzed interviewee responses looking for factors that promoted or impededexchanges between researchers and policy-makers. These were, in turn,divided into emphases on content, actors, process, and context. Many of thepromoting factors resembled findings from studies in industrializedcountries. Some important differences across the four programmes, whichalso distinguish them from industrialized country programmes, includedextent of reliance on formal communication channels, role of the mass mediain building social consensus or creating discord, levels of socialconsensus, role of foreign donors, and extent of support for biomedicalversus social research.We recommend various ways to increase the impact ofresearch on health policy-making in Mexico. Some of the largest challengesinclude the fact that researchers are but one of many interest groups, andresearch but one input among many equally legitimate elements to beconsidered by policy-makers. Another important challenge in Mexico is therelatively small role played by the public in policy-making. Furtherdemocratic changes in Mexico may be the most important incentive toincrease the use of research in policy -making.