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National support to public health research: a survey of European ministries.

Conceição C, Leandro A, McCarthy M - BMC Public Health (2009)

Bottom Line: We gained formal replies from 42 out of 56 ministries (73% response) in 25 countries.In most European countries, ministries of health, or their devolved agencies, were regarded as the leading organizations.There would be benefits from better processes of priority setting and improved coordination for research, at regional, national and European levels.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1600-560 Lisboa, Portugal. mclaudiaconceicao@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Background: Within SPHERE (Strengthening Public Health Research in Europe), a collaborative study funded by the European Commission, we have assessed the support for public health research at ministry level in European countries.

Methods: We surveyed the health and science ministries in 25 EU countries and 3 EEA countries, using a broad definition of public-health research at population level. We made over 600 phone calls and emails to identify respondents and to gain answers. We gained formal replies from 42 out of 56 ministries (73% response) in 25 countries. There were 22 completed questionnaires (from 25 ministries), 6 short answers and 11 contacts declaring that their ministries were not responsible for public health research, while in 14 ministries (both ministries in three countries) no suitable ministry contact could be found.

Results: In most European countries, ministries of health, or their devolved agencies, were regarded as the leading organizations. Most ministries were able to specify thematic areas for public-health research (from three to thirty), and others ministries referred to policy documents, health plans or public-health plans to define research priorities. Ministries and their agencies led on decisions for financial support of public-health research, with less involvement of other external organisations compared with the process of identifying priorities. However, the actual funds available for public health were not easily identifiable. Most ministries relied on general academic means for dissemination of results of public-health research, while ministries get information on the use of public-health research usually through informal means. Ministries made suggestions for strengthening public-health research through initiatives of their own countries and of the European Union: as well as more resources, improving coordination was most frequently suggested.

Conclusion: There is no common approach to support for public-health research across Europe, and significant gaps in organisation and funding. Health ministries and national agencies value exchange between researchers and policy-makers, civil society organizations, and academic and public authorities, and the application of public-health research results. There would be benefits from better processes of priority setting and improved coordination for research, at regional, national and European levels.

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Countries' contracted out and internal research. Note: at – Austria; be – Belgium; ch – Switzerland; ee – Estonia; es – Spain; fi – Finland; fr – France; hu – Hungary; mt – Malta; pt – Portugal; se – Sweden
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Figure 1: Countries' contracted out and internal research. Note: at – Austria; be – Belgium; ch – Switzerland; ee – Estonia; es – Spain; fi – Finland; fr – France; hu – Hungary; mt – Malta; pt – Portugal; se – Sweden

Mentions: Ministries were asked to describe the balance between "internal" and "contracted out" public-health research. Internal public-health research is considered to be regularly funded, and performed in structures legally dependent on a ministry. Contracted out public-health research may be performed by non-governmental agencies, including private, by applying and through calls for funds available for research projects (mostly additional to regular funding of research agencies and universities). In both settings, however, it may be either researcher-led, or in response to identified research agendas (e.g. national research health plans, pro-active attitude from ministry). Drawing on responses provided by at least one ministry, the predominant position of public health research of eleven countries within four quadrants is internal, with both ministries and researchers developing the agenda (Figure 1).


National support to public health research: a survey of European ministries.

Conceição C, Leandro A, McCarthy M - BMC Public Health (2009)

Countries' contracted out and internal research. Note: at – Austria; be – Belgium; ch – Switzerland; ee – Estonia; es – Spain; fi – Finland; fr – France; hu – Hungary; mt – Malta; pt – Portugal; se – Sweden
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2713230&req=5

Figure 1: Countries' contracted out and internal research. Note: at – Austria; be – Belgium; ch – Switzerland; ee – Estonia; es – Spain; fi – Finland; fr – France; hu – Hungary; mt – Malta; pt – Portugal; se – Sweden
Mentions: Ministries were asked to describe the balance between "internal" and "contracted out" public-health research. Internal public-health research is considered to be regularly funded, and performed in structures legally dependent on a ministry. Contracted out public-health research may be performed by non-governmental agencies, including private, by applying and through calls for funds available for research projects (mostly additional to regular funding of research agencies and universities). In both settings, however, it may be either researcher-led, or in response to identified research agendas (e.g. national research health plans, pro-active attitude from ministry). Drawing on responses provided by at least one ministry, the predominant position of public health research of eleven countries within four quadrants is internal, with both ministries and researchers developing the agenda (Figure 1).

Bottom Line: We gained formal replies from 42 out of 56 ministries (73% response) in 25 countries.In most European countries, ministries of health, or their devolved agencies, were regarded as the leading organizations.There would be benefits from better processes of priority setting and improved coordination for research, at regional, national and European levels.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 1600-560 Lisboa, Portugal. mclaudiaconceicao@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Background: Within SPHERE (Strengthening Public Health Research in Europe), a collaborative study funded by the European Commission, we have assessed the support for public health research at ministry level in European countries.

Methods: We surveyed the health and science ministries in 25 EU countries and 3 EEA countries, using a broad definition of public-health research at population level. We made over 600 phone calls and emails to identify respondents and to gain answers. We gained formal replies from 42 out of 56 ministries (73% response) in 25 countries. There were 22 completed questionnaires (from 25 ministries), 6 short answers and 11 contacts declaring that their ministries were not responsible for public health research, while in 14 ministries (both ministries in three countries) no suitable ministry contact could be found.

Results: In most European countries, ministries of health, or their devolved agencies, were regarded as the leading organizations. Most ministries were able to specify thematic areas for public-health research (from three to thirty), and others ministries referred to policy documents, health plans or public-health plans to define research priorities. Ministries and their agencies led on decisions for financial support of public-health research, with less involvement of other external organisations compared with the process of identifying priorities. However, the actual funds available for public health were not easily identifiable. Most ministries relied on general academic means for dissemination of results of public-health research, while ministries get information on the use of public-health research usually through informal means. Ministries made suggestions for strengthening public-health research through initiatives of their own countries and of the European Union: as well as more resources, improving coordination was most frequently suggested.

Conclusion: There is no common approach to support for public-health research across Europe, and significant gaps in organisation and funding. Health ministries and national agencies value exchange between researchers and policy-makers, civil society organizations, and academic and public authorities, and the application of public-health research results. There would be benefits from better processes of priority setting and improved coordination for research, at regional, national and European levels.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus