فهرست مطالب

Health Policy and Management - Volume:12 Issue: 1, Jan 2023
  • Volume:12 Issue: 1, Jan 2023
  • تاریخ انتشار: 1402/09/10
  • تعداد عناوین: 167
  • Andrew Smaggus *, Janet C. Long, Louise Ellis, Robyn Clay-Williams, Jeffrey Braithwaite Page 1
  • Judite Gonçalves * Page 2

    The paper by Forde et al, newly published in this journal, sheds light on how sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) companies may react to the introduction of a SSB tax. This commentary goes over the paper’s main findings and drafts implications for research on the impacts of SSB taxes. First and foremost, future research needs to assess the actual impacts of SSB taxes on companies’ actions, especially reformulation. Second, cross-country research, comparing large companies with similar beverage portfolios, could bring insights about the impacts of external factors, including different SSB taxes, on companies’ decisions. Third, SSB companies’ actions are potential confounders in empirical studies looking into the impacts of SSB taxes on prices, demand, or other outcomes. Researchers need to be aware of and discuss such aspects thoroughly in their studies, as the implications for the interpretation of results are evident.

    Keywords: Multi-Tier SSB Taxes, Reformulation, Optimal Tax Design, Multidimensional Impacts, Confounding Factors
  • Guido Noto * Page 3

    “Healthcare is complex” - or similar sentences – is a statement that introduces a wide number of scientific articles dealing with health policy and management issues. We all agree that healthcare is complex, but most studies, although using this kind of sentence to introduce their background, do little to effectively deal with such complexity in their analyses. Holmström et al proposed a methodological approach to tackle healthcare complexity by integrating system dynamics (SD) into action research (AR). This commentary highlights three touch points that makes the combination of AR and SD feasible, namely the epistemological ground, the use of experimentation and the collaborative approach. The proposed approach addresses some of the key sources of the complexity characterizing healthcare settings.

    Keywords: Action Research, System Dynamics, Healthcare, Pragmatism, Management
  • Selda Ulucanlar, Kathrin Lauber, Alice Fabbri, Ben Hawkins, Melissa Mialon, Linda Hancock, Viroj Tangcharoensathien, Anna B. Gilmore * Page 4

    Background  Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 41 million people a year. The products and services of unhealthy commodity industries (UCIs) such as tobacco, alcohol, ultra-processed foods and beverages and gambling are responsible for much of this health burden. While effective public health policies are available to address this, UCIs have consistently sought to stop governments and global organisations adopting such policies through what is known as corporate political activity (CPA). We aimed to contribute to the study of CPA and development of effective countermeasures by formulating a model and evidence-informed taxonomies of UCI political activity.Methods  We used five complementary methods critical interpretive synthesis of the conceptual CPA literature; brief interviews; expert co-author knowledge; stakeholder workshops; testing against the literature.Results  We found 11 original conceptualisations of CPA; four had been used by other researchers and reported in 24 additional review papers. Combining an interpretive synthesis of all these papers and feedback from users, we developed two taxonomies – one on framing strategies and one on action strategies. The former identified three frames (policy actors, problem, and solutions) and the latter six strategies (access and influence policy-making, use the law, manufacture support for industry, shape evidence to manufacture doubt, displace, and usurp public health, manage reputations to industry’s advantage). We also offer an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of UCI strategies and a model that situates industry CPA in the wider social, political, and economic context.Conclusion  Our work confirms the similarity of CPA across UCIs and demonstrates its extensive and multi-faceted nature, the disproportionate power of corporations in policy spaces and the unacceptable conflicts of interest that characterise their engagement with policy-making. We suggest that industry CPA is recognised as a corruption of democracy, not an element of participatory democracy. Our taxonomies and model provide a starting point for developing effective solutions.

    Keywords: Commercial Determinants of Health, Public Health Policy, Tobacco, Alcohol, Ultra-Processed Foods, Gambling
  • Padraic Fleming *, Louise Caffrey, Sara Van Belle, Sarah Barry, Sara Burke, Jacki Conway, Rikke Siersbaek, David Mockler, Steve Thomas Page 5

    Background  The Great Recession, following the 2008 financial crisis, led many governments to adopt programmes of austerity. This had a lasting impact on health system functionality, resources, staff (numbers, motivation and morale) and patient outcomes. This study aimed to understand how health system resilience was impacted and how this affects readiness for subsequent shocks.Methods  A realist review identified legacies associated with austerity (proximal outcomes) and how these impact the distal outcome of health system resilience. EMBASE, CINAHL, MEDLINE, EconLit and Web of Science were searched (2007–May 2021), resulting in 1081 articles. Further theory-driven searches resulted in an additional 60 studies. Descriptive, inductive, deductive and retroductive realist analysis (utilising excel and Nvivo) aided the development of context-mechanism-outcome configurations (CMOCs), alongside stakeholder engagement to confirm or refute emerging results. Causal pathways, and the interplay between context and mechanisms that led to proximal and distal outcomes, were revealed. The refined CMOCs and policy recommendations focused primarily on workforce resilience.Results  Five CMOCs demonstrated how austerity-driven policy decisions can impact health systems when driven by the priorities of external agents. This created a real or perceived shift away from the values and interests of health professionals, a distrust in decision-making processes and resistance to change. Their values were at odds with the realities of implementing such policy decisions within sustained restrictive working conditions (rationing of staff, consumables, treatment options). A diminished view of the profession and an inability to provide high-quality, equitable, and needs-led care, alongside stagnant or degraded working conditions, led to moral distress. This can forge legacies that may adversely impact resilience when faced with future shocks.Conclusion  This review reveals the importance of transparent, open communication, in addition to co-produced policies in order to avoid scenarios that can be detrimental to workforce and health system resilience.

    Keywords: Austerity, Health System Resilience, Preparedness, Governance, Communication, Value-Driven Decision-Making
  • Alec Fraser *, Lorelei Jones, Colin Lorne, Ellen Stewart Page 6

    In this short article we comment upon the recent article by Perry et al “Attending to History” in Major System Change in Healthcare in England: Specialist Cancer Surgery Service Reconfiguration. We welcome the engagement with power, history and heuristics in the Perry et al paper. Our article discusses the importance of researcher positionality in Major System Change research, alongside managerial power and the centrality of politics to remaking health and care services. Additionally, we highlight the work of Ansell and Gash focused on ‘collaborative governance’ and its potential to offer insight in relation to Major System Change.

    Keywords: Major System Change, Healthcare Reconfiguration, Regional Reforms, Collaborative Governance
  • Martin Powell, Russell Mannion * Page 7

    A range of conceptual models for understanding the policy process have been applied to the health policy process, largely in particular sub areas or policy domains such as public health. However, these contributions appear to offer different rationales and present different frameworks for understanding the policy process. This Editorial critically examines articles that explore the health policy process with models from wider public policy and from health policy. It can be seen that very few of the wider models have been applied in studies of the health policy process. Conversely, some models feature in studies of the health policy process, but not in the wider policy process literature, which suggests that literature on the health policy process is semi-detached from the wider policy process literature. There seem to be two very different future research directions: focusing on ‘home grown’ models, or taking greater account of the wider policy process literature. Does ‘one size fit all’ or is it ‘horses for courses’?

    Keywords: Health Policy, Public Policy, Health Policy Processes, Modelling
  • Mina Moradzadeh *, Mohammad Karamouzian, Sahar Najafizadeh, Vahid Yazdi-Feyzabadi, Ali-Akbar Haghdoost Page 8
  • Kas Woudstra *, Rob Reuzel, Maroeska Rovers, Marcia Tummers Page 9

    Background  There is a wide variety of participatory approaches to involve stakeholders in the development of medical devices, but there is no comprehensive overview of these approaches. We therefore studied what participatory approaches are used in the development of medical devices as well as the most important characteristics and challenges of these approaches.Methods  We conducted a scoping review and searched PubMed, Embase and Web of Science for articles published between July 2014 and July 2019. Papers were included if they presented original research featuring any form of stakeholder participation in the development of medical devices. We used The Spectrum of Public Participation to categorise the approach of each paper. Subsequently, we described the characteristics of each approach: the stakeholders involved, data collection methods, and topics addressed. We also identified challenges of the approaches as reported by researchers.Results  277 papers were included, which could be categorised into three levels of participation: collaboration, involvement, and consultation. Patients and healthcare professionals are frequently engaged in all approaches. The most often used methods are workshops in the collaboration approach papers, and interviews in the involvement and consultation approach papers. Topics addressed in all approaches are: the problem, device requirements, design choices, testing, and procedural aspects of involvement. Reported challenges entail issues related to sampling, analysis, social dynamics, feasibility, and the limited number of topics that can be addressed.Conclusion  Participatory approaches reported in literature can be categorised in three overarching approaches that have comparable methodological characteristics. This suggests that if researchers want to apply a participatory approach it is not necessary to adopt a pre-determined approach, such as ‘participatory action research’ (PAR). Instead, they can independently determine the degree of participation, stakeholders, methods, topics, and strategies to account for challenges, making sure the participatory approach fits their research question and context.

    Keywords: Stakeholder Engagement, Participatory Research, Medical Device Development, User-Centred Design, Public Participation
  • Francesca Gorla, Anja Borojevic *, Chiara Gibertoni, Lorena Landi, Marco Storchi, Luca Fontana, Jetri Regmi, Barbara Burmen, Anna Silenzi Page 10

    This case study describes and analyses an action research initiative undertaken by management, staff and World Health Organization (WHO) at the IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Bologna, Policlinico di Sant’Orsola, Italy. The initiative utilised staff engagement approaches developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to rethink and reshape future development plans. The initiative provides a ‘how-to’ case study for complex health facilities on ways to create similar multisectoral, inclusive and holistic processes in planning structural, functional and organizational solutions for their ‘hospitals of tomorrow.’


    The case study utilised an action research approach coordinated by a team of WHO facilitators in close collaboration with the Board of Hospital Directors. Heterogeneous and multidisciplinary working groups were created, with members from different levels of the hospital staff. In the context of facilitated group meetings held weekly over a one-year period, participants were asked to review topics of interest to future plans of the hospital and make recommendations on effective/innovative ways of addressing these in the short and long term. Working groups focused on different challenges.


    The initiative was successful in creating and sustaining broad staff engagement in the future planning processes. 80% groups maintained high staff participation throughout the entire project year. Participating staff reported enhanced communication and cooperation between departments represented in different groups. 87% of the proposed plans suggested by the working groups were approved by the Board for implementation.


    Key factors contributing to the high approval rate of plans, strong engagement record of staff and enhanced cooperation between involved departments; included: multisectoral/cross hierarchal staff involvement, group attention to defining time-bound contextual goals, flexible implementation monitoring approaches, personnel skills and profiles of participants, direct and open communication at all levels and times, member commitment and clear exit strategy. The case study is presented as a model to stimulate similar actions in other complex healthcare facilities.

    Keywords: Project Management, Participatory Process, Groups Empowerment, Hospital Management, Health System, Hospital Organization
  • Dell D. Saulnier *, Anna Duchenko, Sierra Ottilie-Kovelman, Fabrizio Tediosi, Karl Blanchet Page 11

    Background  Health challenges like coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are becoming increasingly complex, transnational, and unpredictable. Studying health system responses to the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to enhance our understanding of health system resilience and establish a clearer link between theoretical concepts and practical ideas on how to build resilience. Methods  This narrative literature review aims to address four questions using a health system resilience framework: (i) What do we understand about the dimensions of resilience? (ii) What aspects of the resilience dimensions remain uncertain? (iii) What aspects of the resilience dimensions are missing from the COVID-19 discussions? and (iv) What has COVID-19 taught us about resilience that is missing from the framework? A scientific literature database search was conducted in December 2020 and in April 2022 to identify publications that discussed health system resilience in relation to COVID-19, excluding articles on psychological and other types of resilience. A total of 63 publications were included. Results  There is good understanding around information sharing, flexibility and good leadership, learning, maintaining essential services, and the need for legitimate, interdependent systems. Decision-making, localized trust, influences on interdependence, and transformation remain uncertain. Vertical interdependence, monitoring risks beyond the health system, and consequences of changes on the system were not discussed. Teamwork, actor legitimacy, values, inclusivity, trans-sectoral resilience, and the role of the private sector are identified as lessons from COVID-19 that should be further explored for health system resilience. Conclusion  Knowledge of health system resilience has continued to cohere following the pandemic. The eventual consequences of system changes and the resilience of subsystems are underexplored. Through governance, the concept of health system resilience can be linked to wider issues raised by the pandemic, like inclusivity. Our findings show the utility of resilience theory for strengthening health systems for crises and the benefit of continuing to refine existing resilience theory.

    Keywords: Health System Resilience, COVID-19, Governance
  • Becky Q Fu, Claire CW Zhong, Charlene HL Wong, Fai Fai Ho, Per Nilsen, Chi Tim Hung, Eng Kiong Yeoh, Vincent CH Chung * Page 12

    Background  Avoidable hospital readmission is a major problem among health systems. Although there are effective peri-discharge interventions for reducing avoidable hospital readmission, successful implementation is challenging. This systematic review of qualitative studies aimed to identify barriers and facilitators to implementing peri-discharge interventions from providers’ and service users’ perspectives.Methods  We searched four databases for potentially eligible qualitative studies from databases’ inception to March 2020, and updated literature search for studies published between January 2020 to October 2021. Barriers and facilitators to implementing peri-discharge interventions were identified and mapped onto the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) constructs. Inductive analysis of the CFIR constructs was performed to yield thematic areas that illustrated the relationship between various facilitators and barriers, generating practical insights to keyimplementation issues.Results  Thirteen qualitative studies were included in this systematic review. Key issues were clustered in the CFIR constructs of Design Quality and Complexity of the intervention, strength of Network and Communication, being responsive to Patient Needs with sufficient Resource support, and External Incentives. The three thematic areas were rationality of the interventions, readiness and effort of multidisciplinary implementation teams, and influence of external stakeholders. Common barriers included (i) limited resources, (ii) poor communication among team members, (iii) incompatibility between the new intervention and existing work routine, (iv) complicated implementation process, (v) low practicality of supporting instruments, and (vi) lack of understanding about the content and effectiveness of the new interventions. Common facilitators were (i) information sharing via regular meetings on implementation issues, (ii) organizational culture that values quality and accountability, (iii) financial penalties for hospitals with high avoidable readmissions rates, (iv) external support offered via quality improvement programs and community resources, and (v) senior leadership support.Conclusion  This study synthesized commonly-presenting barriers and facilitators to implementing peri-discharge interventions among different healthcare organizations. Findings may inform development of implementation strategies in different health systems after appropriate tailoring, based on a consensus-based formative research process.

    Keywords: Patient readmission, Transitional Care, Implementation Science, Qualitative Research, Systematic Review, Delivery of Healthcare
  • Chloe Clifford Astbury, Kirsten M. Lee, Elizabeth Mcgill, Janielle Clarke, Matt Egan, Afton Halloran, Regina Malykh, Holly Rippin, Kremlin Wickramasinghe, Tarra L. Penney * Page 13

    Background  Given the complex determinants of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and the dynamic policy landscape, researchers and policy-makers are exploring the use of systems thinking and complexity science (STCS) in developing effective policies. The aim of this review is to systematically identify and analyse existing applications of STCS-informed methods in NCD prevention policy.Methods  We searched academic databases (Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, EMBASE) for all publications indexed by October 13, 2020, screening titles, abstracts and full texts and extracting data according to published guidelines. We summarised key data from each study, mapping applications of methods informed by STCS to policy process domains. We conducted a thematic analysis to identify advantages, limitations, barriers and facilitators to using STCS.Results  4681 papers were screened and 112 papers were included in this review. The most common policy areas were tobacco control, obesity prevention and physical activity promotion. Methods applied included system dynamics modelling, agent-based modelling and concept mapping. Advantages included supporting evidence-informed decisionmaking; modelling complex systems and addressing multi-sectoral problems. Limitations included the abstraction of reality by STCS methods, despite aims of encompassing greater complexity. Challenges included resource-intensiveness; lack of stakeholder trust in models; and results that were too complex to be comprehensible to stakeholders. Ensuring stakeholder ownership and presenting findings in a user-friendly way facilitated STCS use.Conclusion  This review maps the proliferating applications of STCS methods in NCD prevention policy. STCS methods have the potential to generate tailored and dynamic evidence, adding robustness to evidence-informed policy-making, but must be accessible to policy stakeholders and have strong stakeholder ownership to build consensus and change stakeholder perspectives. Evaluations of whether, and under what circumstances, STCS methods lead to more effective policies compared to conventional methods are lacking, and would enable more targeted and constructive use of these methods.

    Keywords: Non-communicable Disease, Policy, Systems Thinking, Complexity Science, Population-Level Prevention
  • Rafael Miranda *, Mónica Duarte Oliveira, Paulo Nicola, Filipa Baptista, Isabel Albuquerque Page 14

    Background  Remote patient monitoring (RPM) has been increasingly adopted over the last decade, with the COVID-19 pandemic fostering its rapid development. As RPM implementation is recognised as complex and highly demanding in terms of resources and processes, there are multiple challenges in providing RPM in an integrated logic.Methods  To examine the structural elements that are relevant for implementing RPM integrated care, a scoping review was conducted in PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science, leveraging a search strategy that combines terms relative to (1) conceptual models and real-life initiatives; (2) RPM; and (3) care integration.Results  28 articles were included, covering nine conceptual models and 19 real-life initiatives. Eighteen structural elements of RPM integrated care implementation were identified among conceptual models, defining a structure for assessing real-life initiatives. 78.9% of those initiatives referred to at least ten structural elements, with patient education and self-monitoring promotion, multidisciplinary core workforce, ICTs (information and communications technologies) and telemonitoring (TM) devices, and health indicators measurement being present in all studies, and therefore being core elements to the design of RPM initiatives.Conclusion  RPM goes far beyond technology, with underlying processes and involved actors playing a central role in care provision. The structural elements identified can guide RPM implementation and promote maturity in adoption. Future research may focus on assessing design completeness, evaluating impacts, and analysing related financial arrangements.

    Keywords: Remote Patient Monitoring, Telehealth, Integrated Care, Scoping Review, Healthcare Organization
  • Natalie Mueller *, Rodrigo Anderle, Nicolai Brachowicz, Helton Graziadei, Simon J. Lloyd, Gabriel De Sampaio Morais, Alberto Pietro Sironi, Karina Gibert, Cathryn Tonne, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Davide Rasella Page 15

    Background  Health impact assessment (HIA) is a widely used process that aims to identify the health impacts, positive or negative, of a policy or intervention that is not necessarily placed in the health sector. Most HIAs are done prospectively and aim to forecast expected health impacts under assumed policy implementation. HIAs may quantitatively and/or qualitatively assess health impacts, with this study focusing on the former. A variety of quantitative modelling methods exist that are used for forecasting health impacts, however, they differ in application area, data requirements, assumptions, risk modelling, complexities, limitations, strengths, and comprehensibility. We reviewed relevant models, so as to provide public health researchers with considerations for HIA model choice.Methods  Based on an HIA expert consultation, combined with a narrative literature review, we identified the most relevant models that can be used for health impact forecasting. We narratively and comparatively reviewed the models, according to their fields of application, their configuration and purposes, counterfactual scenarios, underlying assumptions, health risk modelling, limitations and strengths.Results  Seven relevant models for health impacts forecasting were identified, consisting of (i) comparative risk assessment (CRA), (ii) time series analysis (TSA), (iii) compartmental models (CMs), (iv) structural models (SMs), (v) agentbased models (ABMs), (vi) microsimulations (MS), and (vii) artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML). These models represent a variety in approaches and vary in the fields of HIA application, complexity and comprehensibility. We provide a set of criteria for HIA model choice. Researchers must consider that model input assumptions match the available data and parameter structures, the available resources, and that model outputs match the research question, meet expectations and are comprehensible to end-users.Conclusion  The reviewed models have specific characteristics, related to available data and parameter structures, computational implementation, interpretation and comprehensibility, which the researcher should critically consider before HIA model choice.

    Keywords: Health Impact Assessment, Ex-Ante Impact Evaluation, Forecast, Modelling, Policy
  • Elizabeth Bennett *, Stephanie Topp, Alan Rob Moodie Page 16

    Background  Corporations in unhealthy commodity industries (UCIs) have growing influence on the health of national populations through practices that lead to increased consumption of unhealthy products. The use of government-led public health surveillance is best practice to better understand any emerging public health threat. However, there is minimal systematic evidence, generated and monitored by national governments, regarding the scope of UCI corporate practices and their impacts. This study aims to synthesise current frameworks that exist to identify and monitor UCI influence on health to highlight the range of practices deployed by corporations and inform future surveillance efforts in key UCIs.Methods  Seven biomedical, business and scientific databases were searched to identify literature focused on corporate practices that impact human health and frameworks for monitoring or assessment of the way UCIs impact health. Content analysis occurred in three phases, involving (1) the identification of framework documents in the literature and extraction of all corporate practices from the frameworks; (2) initial inductive grouping and synthesis followed by deductive synthesis using Lima and Galea’s ‘vehicles of power’ as a heuristic; and (3) scoping for potential indicators linked to each corporate practice and development of an integrated framework.Results  Fourteen frameworks were identified with 37 individual corporate practices which were coded into five different themes according the Lima and Galea ‘Corporate Practices and Health’ framework. We proposed a summary framework to inform the public health surveillance of UCIs which outlines key actors, corporate practices and outcomes that should be considered. The proposed framework draws from the health policy triangle framework and synthesises key features of existing frameworks.Conclusion  Systematic monitoring of the practices of UCIs is likely to enable governments to mitigate the negative health impacts of corporate practices. The proposed synthesised framework highlights the range of practices deployed by corporations for public health surveillance at a national government level. We argue there is significant precedent and great need for monitoring of these practices and the operationalisation of a UCI monitoring system should be the object of future research.

    Keywords: Commercial Determinants, Public health surveillance, Monitoring, Unhealthy Commidity Industries, Corporate Influence
  • Stephanie B.M. Cadeddu *, Labante Outcha Dare, Jean-Louis Denis Page 17

    Background  Employee-driven innovation (EDI) occurs when frontline actors in health organizations use their firsthand experience to spur new ideas to transform care. Despite its increasing prevalence in health organizations, the organizational conditions under which EDI is operationalized have received little scholarly attention.Methods  This scoping review identifies gaps and assembles existing knowledge on four questions: What is EDI in health organizations and which frontline actors are involved? What are the characteristics of the EDI process? What contextual factors enable or impede EDI? And what benefits does EDI bring to health organizations? We searched seven databases with keywords related to EDI in health organizations. After screening 1580 studies by title and abstract, we undertook full-text review of 453 articles, retaining 60 for analysis. We performed a descriptive and an inductive thematic analysis guided by the four questions.Results  Findings reveal an heterogeneous literature. Most articles are descriptive (n = 41). Few studies are conceptual and empirical (n = 15) and four are conference papers. EDI was often described as a participatory, learning innovation process involving frontline clinical and non-clinical staff and managers. Majority EDI were top-down, often driven by the organization’s focus on participatory improvement and innovation and research-based initiatives. Five categories of methods is used in top-down EDI, two thirds of which includes a learning, a team and/or a digital component. Hybrid EDI often involves a team-based component. Bottom-up EDI emerged spontaneously from the work of frontline actors. Enablers, barriers, and benefits of EDI are seen at macro, organizational, team and individual levels; some benefits spread to other health organizations and health systems.Conclusion  This scoping review provides a comprehensive understanding of the organizational conditions under which EDI is operationalized. It offers insights for researchers, health organizations, and policy-makers about how and why frontline actors’ involvement is crucial for the transformation of care.

    Keywords: Scoping Study, Frontline Employees, Innovative Organizations, Bottom-Up Innovation, Health System
  • Hilco J. Van Elten, Steven W. Howard *, Ivo De Loo, Frans Schaepkens Page 18

    Background  Value-based healthcare (VBHC), which can be viewed as a strategy to organize and improve healthcare services, has far-reaching organizational and managerial consequences. It is common managerial practice to support the execution of a strategy by monitoring the ensuing activities. Such monitoring provides feedback and guidance on the execution of these activities to the management of an organization and helps to realize organizational strategies. Monitoring of activities is commonly done by performance management systems. Given the rising attention in the literature and in practice for VBHC, we ask to what extent VBHC is supported by performance management systems in practice, and how we can explain what we find to support further successful implementation of VBHC.Methods  In our scoping review of financial and performance management at the organization or unit-level of healthcare organizations that apply value-based approaches, we identified 1267 unique papers in Embase, Medline, OVID, and Web of Science. After the (double-blinded) title and abstract screening, 398 full-text articles were assessed for further analysis.Results   Our review reveals only eleven original papers discussing specifically the integration of VBHC and performance management systems. Almost all the featured applications in these papers focus on a specific project or medical specialty. Only one paper exemplifies how VBHC has been integrated with the performance management systems of a medical institution, and no paper provides a clear link with strategy execution. We ask why this is the case and propose several explanations by studying the extant performance management literature. We see these explanations as issues for further reflection for VBHC practitioners and researchers.Conclusion  We conclude that one of the reasons for the absence of papers integrating VBHC and performance management systems is formed by the tensions that exist between striving for “the best care” or even for providing “all care that is viably possible” and pursuing greater (financial) efficiency. Implementing VBHC as an important organizational strategy and explicating this strategy in the performance management systems requires that these tensions need to be brought into the fore. When this is not done, we believe that VBHC adoptions that are fully integrated with performance management systems will remain limited in practice.

    Keywords: Value-Based Healthcare, Performance Management, Healthcare Value Chain, Barriers to Adoption, Systematic Review
  • Ana Luísa Soares, Sandra C. Buttigieg, Bartosz Bak, Sonya Mcfadden, Ciara Hughes, Patricia Mcclure, Jose Guilherme Couto, Isabel Bravo * Page 19

    Background  Circular economy (CE) has raised great interest as a concept and as a development model worldwide. This concept aims to provide a substitute for the linear economic model, which was based on production and consumption, continuous growth, and resources depletion. CE allows a greener economy with sustainable development and promotes more balanced societies. The healthcare sector is a major contributor to the climate crisis, with a carbon footprint representing 4.4% of global net emissions. It is thus essential to rethink the applicability of CE in healthcare.Methods   We conducted a scoping review guided by the Arksey and O’Malley methodological framework and utilised PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) checklist. A systematic search from MEDLINE complete, SCOPUS, and Web of Science databases published between 1992 and 2022.Results  Through database searching a total of 1018 records were identified and 475 duplicates were removed. From the total search, 543 articles were screened by title/abstract according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. After screening, 38 full-text articles were selected and assessed for eligibility. Forty-seven additional records were also identified through other sources and screened for eligibility. Other sources included: 12 articles from snowballing of previous papers; 9 articles following peer-reviewers suggestions; 19 reports from relevant organisations in CE and healthcare; two webpage, and one book.Conclusion  Specific areas were identified where hospitals could reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consequently their negative environmental impact, namely through waste management, energy, water, transportation/travel, hospital design, food optimisation, green procurement, and behaviour. Also, lack of staff awareness and knowledge of the environmental impact of healthcare, and hospitals sustainability were identified as major contributors.

    Keywords: Circular Economy, Carbon Footprint, Healthcare Waste, Healthcare Management, Hospital Sustainability
  • Badrye Karami, Abbas Ostad-Taghizadeh, Arash Rashidian, Maryam Tajvar * Page 20

    Background  Population aging is usually associated with increased health care needs. Developing an age-friendly health system with special features, structure, and functions to meet the special needs of older people and improving their health status and quality of life is essential. This study aimed to develop a conceptual framework for an age-friendly health system, which would offer a conceptual basis for providing the best possible care for older people in health system to let them experience a successful, healthy, and active aging.Methods  A scoping review was used to design the conceptual framework based on Arksey and O’Malley’s model, including six stages, with the final stage of using expert’s opinions to improve and validate the initial framework. The health system model of Van Olmen, was selected as the baseline model for this framework. Then, by reviewing the available evidence, the characteristics of an age-friendly health system were extracted and incorporated in the baseline mode.Results  Using the electronic searching, initially 12 316 documents were identified, of which 140 studies were selected and included in this review study. The relevant data were extracted from the 140 studies by two reviewers independently. Most studies were conducted in 2016-2020, and mostly were from United States (33.6%). To have an age-friendly health system, interventions and changes should be performed in functions, components and objectives of health systems. This system aims to provide evidence-based care through trained workforces and involves older people and their families in health policy-makings. Its consequences include better health acre for older people, with fewer healthcare-related harms, greater care satisfaction and increased use of cost-effective health services.Conclusion  To meet the needs of older people, health systems should make interventions in their functions for better performance. In line with these changes, other parts of society should work in harmony and set the health of older people as a top priority to ensure they can have a successful aging.

    Keywords: Age Friendly, Health System, Conceptual Framework, Scoping Review
  • Yuwei Su, Zhengying Liu, Jie Chang, Qiuju Deng, Yuyang Zhang, Jing Liu *, Ying Long Page 21

    Several methods have been applied to measure healthcare accessibility, ie, the Euclidean distance, the network distance, and the transport time based on speed limits. However, these methods generally produce less accurate estimates than actual measurements. This research proposed a method to estimate historical healthcare accessibility more accurately by using taxi Global Positioning System (GPS) traces. The proposed method’s advantages were evaluated vis a case study using acute myocardial infarction (AMI) cases in Beijing in 2008. Comparative analyses of the new measure and three conventionally used measures suggested that the median estimated transport time to the closest hospital with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) capability for AMI patients was 5.72 minutes by the taxi GPS trace-based measure, 2.42 minutes by the network distance-based measure, 2.28 minutes by the speed limit-based measure, 1.73 minutes by the Euclidean distance-based measure; and the estimated proportion of patients who lived within 5 minutes of a PCI-capable hospital was 38.17%, 89.20%, 92.52%, 95.05%, respectively. The three conventionally used measures underestimated the travel time cost and overestimated the percentage of patients with timely access to healthcare facilities. In addition, the new measure more accurately identifies the areas with low or high access to healthcare facilities. The taxi GPS trace-based accessibility measure provides a promising start for more accurately estimating accessibility to healthcare facilities, increasing the use of medical records in studying the effects of historical healthcare accessibility on health outcomes, and evaluating how accessibility to healthcare changes over time.

    Keywords: Healthcare Accessibility, Taxi GPS traces, Retrospective measurement, Beijing
  • Elizabeth Bradley * Page 22
  • Viroj Tangcharoensathien *, Ibadat Dhillon Page 23
  • Anuj Kapilashrami, Donya Razavi, Reza Majdzadeh * Page 25
  • Abouali Vedadhir, Peter Bloom, Reza Majdzadeh * Page 26
  • Yael Rachamin *, Matthias Meyer, Thomas Rosemann, Thomas Grischott Page 28

    Background :

    The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) pandemic forced hospitals to redistribute resources for the treatment of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), yet the impact on elective and emergency inpatient procedure volumes is unclear.

    Methods :

    We analyzed anonymized data on 234 921 hospitalizations in 2017‑2020 (55.9% elective) from a big Swiss health insurer. We used linear regression models to predict, based on pre‑pandemic data, the expected weekly numbers of procedures in 2020 in the absence of a pandemic and compared these to the observed numbers in 2020. Compensation effects were investigated by discretely integrating the difference between the two numbers over time.

    Results :

    During the first COVID‑19 wave in spring 2020, elective procedure numbers decreased by 52.9% (95% confidence interval ‑64.5% to ‑42.5%), with cardiovascular and orthopedic elective procedure numbers specifically decreasing by 45.5% and 72.4%. Elective procedure numbers normalized during summer with some compensation of postponed procedures, leaving a deficit of ‑9.9% (‑15.8% to ‑4.5%) for the whole year 2020. Emergency procedure numbers also decreased by 17.1% (‑23.7% to ‑9.8%) during the first wave, but over the whole year 2020, net emergency procedure volumes were similar to control years.

    Conclusion :

    Inpatient procedure volumes in Switzerland decreased considerably in the beginning of the pandemic but recovered quickly after the first wave. Still, there was a net deficit in procedures at the end of the year. Health system leaders must work to ensure that adequate access to non‑COVID‑19 related care is maintained during future pandemic phases in order to prevent negative health consequences.

    Keywords: COVID‑19, Inpatient, Hospitals, Surgery, Undertreatment, Switzerland
  • Azam Rastegari, Mohammad Reza Baneshi *, Ahmad Hajebi, Alireza Noroozi, Mohammad Karamouzian, Mostafa Shokoohi, Ali Mirzazadeh, Toktam Khojasteh Bojnourdi, Naser Nasiri, Saiedeh Haji Maghsoudi, Ali Akbar Haghdoost, Hamid Sharifi Page 29

    Background :

    Estimating the number of people using illicit drugs and alcohol is necessary for informing health policy and programming. However, it is often challenging to reliably estimate the size of these marginalized populations through direct methods. In this study, we estimated the population size of these groups using the indirect Network Scale-Up (NSU) method in Iran from 2015 to 2016.

    Methods :

    Using a self-administered questionnaire, we asked 15 124 individuals (54% men) about the number of people they know who used different types of drugs at least once in the past 12 months. Prevalence estimates were reported per 100 000 population. The uncertainty level (UL) was calculated using the bootstrap method.

    Results :

    The average age of the respondents was 33 years old, and 35.1% of them were unmarried. The most common drugs and their prevalence were as follows: opium (2534 [95% UL: 2467-2598]), hashish (849 [95% UL: 811-886]), stimulants (methamphetamine, ecstasy pills, cocaine, and Ritalin) (842 [95% UL: 802-879]), heroin/crack (578 [95% UL: 550-607]), and drug injection (459 [95% UL: 438-484]). Additionally, we estimated the prevalence of alcohol use as 2797 (95% UL: 2731-2861). On average, substance use was 5.23 times more prevalent among men than women. Opium use was more prevalent among individuals aged >50 years old. Moreover, alcohol use was more prevalent among participants between 18 and 30 years old (5164 per 100 000 population).

    Conclusion :

    Although opium continues to be the most prevalent illicit drug in Iran, the patterns of illicit drug use are heterogeneous among different age groups, genders, and provinces. Age-gender specific and culturally appropriate interventions are warranted to meet the needs of people in different subgroups.

    Keywords: Hidden Groups, Illicit Drug, Network Scale-Up, Alcohol, Iran
  • Sanjay Pattanshetty *, Mantej Pardesi, Nachiket Gudi Page 30

    The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has coerced various resources of all the countries. While the high-income nations redirected financial and human resources to understand specific determinants of vaccination coverage, fragile and conflict-affected setting (FCS) nations were waiting for global bodies to cater to their ever-growing need for vaccines and other lifesaving drugs. This study aimed to determine various factors influencing vaccine coverage in the FCS context.


    World Bank’s classification of FCS states was the primary source for country classification. The study utilized data from various other open sources. The study models cross-country inequities in COVID-19 vaccine coverage and we have employed multi-variate log-linear regressions to understand the relationship between COVID-19 vaccine coverage and cross-country macro-level determinants. The analysis was conducted on two samples, non-FCS Countries and the FCS countries.


    Socio-economic determinants such as gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, socioeconomic resilience; health system determinants such as density of human resources, government spending on health expenditure; and political determinants such as effective government, more power to regional governments, political stability and absence of violence play a pivotal role in vaccine coverage. We also found that FCS countries with a higher share of people strongly believing in the vaccine effectiveness have a positive association with COVID-19 vaccine coverage.


    The study confirmed that political factors, government effectiveness and political stability are also important determinants of vaccine coverage. The result further draws attention to few policy implications such as promoting future research to explore the linkages between the perceived equality before the law and individual liberty and its effect on vaccination coverage in the FCS.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Equity, Fragile, conflict, Determinants of Health, Vaccine coverage
  • Sohila Sadeghi, Fatemeh Mahani, Parisa Amiri *, Shahram Alamdari, Davood Khalili, Navid Saadat, Seyed Alireza Ebadi, Ali Reza Mahdavi Hazaveh, Mohammad Karim Shahrzad, Fereidoun Azizi Page 31

    Despite the achievements of the national program for the prevention and control of diabetes (NPPCD) over the past two decades, the available evidence indicates a high prevalence of this disease in Iran. This qualitative study aims to investigate barriers to the NPPCD by pursuing the perspectives of relevant policy-makers, planners, and healthcare workers.


    A grounded theory approach was used to analyze participants’ perceptions and experiences. Semistructured interviews (n=23) and eight focus groups (n=109) were conducted with relevant policy-makers, planners, and healthcare workers in charge of Iran’s national diabetes management program. Of the 132 participants, ages ranged from 25 to 56 years, and 53% were female. Constant comparative analysis of the data was conducted manually, and open, axial, and selective coding was applied to the data.


    Two main themes emerged from data analysis: implementation barriers and inefficient policy-making/ planning. Insufficient financial resources, staff shortage and insufficient motivation, inadequate knowledge of some healthcare workers, and defects in the referral system were recognized as the NPPCD implementation barriers. Inappropriate program prioritizing, the lack of or poor intersectoral collaboration, and the lack of an effective evaluation system were the inefficient policy-making/planning problems.


    Current results highlighted that inefficient policy-making and planning have led to several implementation problems. Moreover, the key strategies to promote this program are prioritizing the NPPCD, practical intersectoral collaboration, and utilizing a more efficient evaluation system to assess the program and staff performance.

    Keywords: Diabetes, Barriers, national program, The NPPCD, Qualitative Study, Iran
  • Shanquan Chen, Dong Dong * Page 32

    The economic burden of Pompe disease (PD) is under-researched. This study aimed to fill this gap and provide evidence-based suggestions for policy improvement based on policy simulation.


    Data were derived from a nationally based cross-sectional survey on rare diseases in early 2018. Answers from 92 PD patients were used for data analysis and simulation. Catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) and impoverishment due to illness (IDI) were adopted to measure PD patients’ economic burden. Two typical reimbursement patterns, a dosage-based model and a cost-based model, in China were simulated.


    Twenty-four pediatric and 68 adult PD patients were investigated. Families with pediatric PD patients on average had lower annual household incomes than families with adult PD patients (RMB 37 890 vs. RMB 66 120). The direct medical expense and out-of-pocket expenses were almost double for pediatric patients compared with adult patients (RMB 120 050 vs. RMB 66 350; RMB 112 710 vs. RMB 57 940, respectively). The direct non-medical expense for patients was almost six times the expense of adult patients (RMB 73 790 vs. RMB 13 080, respectively). About 88.24% of families with pediatric PD patients and 67.21% of families with adult PD patients suffered from CHE. Around 84.21% of families with pediatric PD patients and 45.90% of families with adult PD patients were forced to live in poverty due to illness. The simulation indicated that, although the two current reimbursement schemes helped reduce CHE, they almost had no effect on reducing IDI; the dosage-based model was more sensitive to changes in policy parameters.


    Our study highlighted the alarmingly high disease burden faced by PD patients with first-hand patientreported evidence. Our series of simulations could be a good reference for China and other countries to improve their reimbursement policy regarding PD.

    Keywords: Pompe Disease, Economic Burden, Catastrophic Health Expenditure, Impoverishment, Policy Simulation, China
  • Lin Chen, Donghui Duan, Liyuan Han, Lu Xu, Sixuan Li, Yuwei Zhang, Wei Feng, Qinghai Gong, Angela E. Micah, Ruijie Zhang, Shiwei Liu *, Hui Li Page 33

    Since 2015, the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) has measured progress in achieving healthrelated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) annually worldwide. Little is known about the status and attainment of indicators of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 65 countries from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by China in 2013.


    Data from GBDs were used to estimate 24 NCD-related SDG indicators in BRI countries from 1990 to 2017. Each indicator was scored from 0 to 100 to compare multiple indicators over the study period. The natural log of the annual change in each location and year and weighted annual rates of change were used to generate projections for 2030. National-level estimates were determined by socio-demographic index (SDI) quintiles in BRI countries with more than 1 million inhabitants.


    In 2017, the median overall score of NCD-related SDG index for the 66 BRI countries was 60 points, ranging from 29 points in Afghanistan to 84 points in Israel. More than 80% of countries achieved the SDG 2030 maternal mortality (MM) rate target in 2017, and the national skilled birth attendance rate was above 99% in more than 59% countries. However, none of the BRI countries achieved the goal for children’s overweight, modern methods of contraception, and universal health coverage. It was predicted that 80.4% of NCD-related SDG targets would be achieved in these countries by 2030. The overall score of NCD-related SDG index were positively associated with SDI quintiles.


    For many indicators, the achieved progress in many countries is less than the annual rate necessary to meet SDG targets, indicating that substantial efforts need to be made in the coming years. Progress should be accelerated through collaborations between countries, implementation of NCD prevention and control strategies, and monitoring of inequalities in NCD-related SDGs within populations.

    Keywords: Non-communicable Disease, Sustainable Development Goals, Belt, Road Initiative, Burden of Disease Study
  • Hongsoo Kim, Nan-He Yoon, Youjin Hahn, Hideki Hashimoto * Page 34

    Establishing universal coverage of formal long-term care (LTC) services is an urgent policy need for aging populations that requires efficient management of quality and financing. Although current variation in LTC service use between and within countries suggests the potential for improvement by efficient management, this topic remains underexamined. We aimed to identify the sources of variance in LTC use and expenditures through a unique crosscountry comparison of Japan and South Korea, which have formal public LTC insurance (LTCI) schemes that are analogous but have unique operational and demographic structures.


    Taking administrative regions as the unit of analysis, we assembled data on the LTC utilization rate of people aged ≥65 years, and expenditures per recipient from 2013 to 2015 as the outcome variables. Explanatory variables included demand-related factors, such as regional demographic and economic conditions, and supply characteristics derived from existing public databases. We conducted weighted least squares regression with fixed effects for the pooled data and used Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition to identify sources of outcome variance between the two countries.


    The average LTC utilization rate was 6.8% in Korea and 18.2% in Japan. Expenditures per recipient were approximately 1.4 times higher in Japan than in Korea. The difference in the utilization rate was mostly explained by between-country differences in supply- and demand-related factors, whereas the difference in expenditures per recipient was largely attributed to unobserved country-specific factors.


    The current findings suggest that LTC utilization is determined largely by the demographic and functional characteristics of older people, whereas expenditures are more likely affected by institutional factors such as the insurance governance scheme and the policy choice of the target population segment and coverage. The results suggest that strategic choice of LTC institutional schemes is required to ensure financial sustainability to meet changing demands caused by population aging

    Keywords: Long-Term Care System, Performance Assessment, Blinder–Oaxaca Decomposition, Cross-National Analysis, Japan, South Korea
  • Peter Binyaruka *, Antonio Andreoni, Dina Balabanova, Martin Mckee, Eleanor Hutchinson, Blake Angell Page 35

    Informal payments for healthcare are typically regressive and limit access to quality healthcare while increasing risk of catastrophic health expenditure, especially in developing countries. Different responses have been proposed, but little is known about how they influence the incentives driving this behaviour. We therefore identified providers’ preferences for policy interventions to overcome informal payments in Tanzania.


    We undertook a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to elicit preferences over various policy options with 432 health providers in 42 public health facilities in Pwani and Dar es Salaam region. DCE attributes were derived from a multi-stage process including a literature review, qualitative interviews with key informants, a workshop with health stakeholders, expert opinions, and a pilot test. Each respondent received 12 unlabelled choice sets describing two hypothetical job-settings that varied across 6-attributes: mode of payment, supervision at facility, opportunity for private practice, awareness and monitoring, measures against informal payments, and incentive payments to encourage noninfraction. Mixed multinomial logit (MMNL) models were used for estimation.


    All attributes, apart from supervision at facility, significantly influenced providers’ choices (P<.001). Health providers strongly and significantly preferred incentive payments for non-infraction and opportunities for private practice, but significantly disliked disciplinary measures at district level. Preferences varied across the sample, although all groups significantly preferred the opportunity to practice privately and cashless payment. Disciplinary measures at district level were significantly disliked by unit in-charges, those who never engaged in informal payments, and who were not absent from work for official trip. 10% salary top-up were preferred incentive by all, except those who engaged in informal payments and absent from work for official trip.


    Better working conditions, with improved earnings and career paths, were strongly preferred by all, different respondents groups had distinct preferences according to their characteristics, suggesting the need for adoption of tailored packages of interventions

    Keywords: Informal Payment, Preferences, Policy Options, Discrete Choice Experiment, Tanzania
  • Carolyn Steele Gray * Page 36

    Martens and colleagues’ paper “Integration or Fragmentation of Health Care? Examining Policies and Politics in a Belgian Case Study,” offers an in-depth examination of integrated care policy efforts in Belgium. A key finding in this case study was that political fragmentation proved too great an obstacle for integration efforts. In this commentary, I draw on the organizational behaviour and integrated care literatures to suggest how meso-level mechanisms related to sensemaking, distributive leadership, and evaluation could help overcome policy (or macro) level challenges like those experienced in Belgium. The commentary also suggests we need to consider and address both the process and normative challenges in these transformation efforts.

    Keywords: Health Policy, Integrated Care, Change Mechanisms, Belgium
  • Jan De Maeseneer *, Anna Galle Page 37

    In this paper we have tried, starting from the results of an analysis of the functioning of integrated care in the Belgian Health System by Martens et al, to design a strategy that could contribute to better addressing the challenges of the 21st century in Belgium. We proposed health system changes at the macro-, meso- and micro-level. We focused on health policy development and organization of care, emphasizing the importance of a shift from a hospital-centric towards a primary care based approach. Special attention was paid to the need for institutional reforms, in order to facilitate the further development of interprofessional integrated care, that focuses on the achievement of the life-goals of a person.

    Keywords: Integrated Care, Health System Reform, Primary Healthcare, Health Policy
  • Aloysius Ssennyonjo * Page 38

    Political economy analysis (PEA) has been advanced as critical to understanding the political dimensions of policy change processes. However, political economy (PE) is not a theory on its own but draws on several concepts. Nannini et al, in concert with other scholars, emphasise that politics is characterised by conflict, contestation and negotiation over interests, ideas and power as various agents attempt to influence their context. This commentary reflects how Nannini et al wrestled with these PEA concepts - summarised in their conceptual framework used for PEA of the Ugandan case study on financial risk protection reforms. The central premise is that a common understanding of the PEA concepts (mainly structure-agency interactions, ideas, interests, institutions and power) forms a basis for strategies to advance thinking and working politically. Consequently, I generate several insights into how we can promote politically informed approaches to designing, implementing and evaluating policy reforms and development efforts.

    Keywords: Politics, Ideas, Institutions, Universal Health Coverage, Health Reforms, Power
  • Gunnar Husabø *, Einar Hovlid Page 39

    Tama et al offer us an interesting analysis of a piloted regulatory reform that introduced a Joint Health Inspections (JHIs) system in three Kenyan counties. The study highlights key factors facilitating or hindering the implementation of the reform. In this commentary we reflect on the concept of fairness, which is one of the topics that is discussed in the study. We describe four important dimensions of fairness in the context of inspections: expectation clarity, consistency of assessment, consistency of enforcement, and fairness to patients. We argue that all four dimensions are important in the regulatory design, in order for the inspection to be perceived as fair.

    Keywords: External Reviews, Equity, Justice, Supervision
  • Radhika Gore * Page 40

    Analysis of policy implementation for chronic disease in Belgium highlights the difficulties of launching experiments for integrated care in a health system with fragmented governance. It also entreats us to consider the inherent challenges of piloting integrated care for chronic disease. Sociomedical characteristics of chronic disease –political, social, and economic aspects of improving outcomes – pose distinct problems for pilot projects, particularly because addressing health inequity requires collaboration across health and social sectors and a long-term, life-course perspective on health. Drawing on recent US experience with demonstration projects for health service delivery reform and on chronic disease research, I discuss constraints of and lessons from pilot projects. The policy learning from pilots lies beyond their technical evaluative yield. Pilot projects can evince political and social challenges to achieving integrated chronic disease care, and can illuminate overlooked perspectives, such as those of community-based organizations (CBOs), thereby potentially extending the terms of policy debate.

    Keywords: Chronic Disease, Social Determinants of Health, Health Equity, Health Service Delivery, Social Services, Policy Learning
  • Petra Maresova * Page 41

    Economic regulation is an instrument of the state or other institutions to correct market failures, rectify the business environment, or protect consumers. Regulation can be a major driver of innovation, and it has proven to be so in the past. On the other hand, there are also documented cases of ineffective regulation due to information delays or shortcomings in government decision-making. The complexity of the impact of regulatory changes on innovation can currently be observed in the medical device market in Europe. Regulation (EU) 2017/745 whose main idea is to ensure greater safety and health protection for consumers, is a challenge for originator, manufacturer, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises. The regulation is associated with an increase in the cost of developing and maintaining the product on the market. We can now gradually begin to analyze whether it can be ranked among those that have become drivers of innovation.

    Keywords: Innovation, Regulatory, Medical Device Industry
  • Cidalia Eusebio, Maria Bakola, David Stuckler * Page 42

    How can resource-deprived countries accelerate progress towards universal health coverage (UHC)? Here we extend the analysis of Nanini and colleagues to investigate a case-study of Uganda, where despite high-level commitments, health system priority and funding has shrunk over the past two decades. We draw on the Stuckler-McKee adapted Political Process model to evaluate three forces for effecting change: reframing the debate; acting on political windows of opportunity; and mobilising resources. Our analysis proposes a series of pragmatic steps from academics, nongovernmental organisations, and government officials that can help neutralise the forces that oppose UHC and overcome fragmentation of the pro-UHC movement.

    Keywords: Universal Health Coverage, Low Income Countries, Middle Income Countries, Political Economy, Uganda
  • Robert K. Basaza *, Prossy K. Namyalo, Boniface Mutatina Page 43

    Uganda introduced health financing reforms that entailed abolition of user fees, and in due process planned to introduce a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). This paper accentuates a contextual and political-economic analysis that dispels the fears and misconceptions related to introduction of the insurance scheme. The Grindle and Thomas model is used to depict how various factors affect decision making by policy elites concerning a particular policy at a particular time. Drawing lessons from the sub-Sahara region and in particular, Ghana and Rwanda’s experience, it is clear that the political will of the executive led by the president in many countries is a key determinant in bringing about health reforms. In this paper, we provide insights based on contextual and political-economic analysis to countries in similar setting that are interested in setting up NHISs.

    Keywords: Reforms, Political-Economic Analysis, User Fees, Health Insurance, Uganda
  • Jan De Lepeleire * Page 44

    The maturity of integrated care in Belgium is rather low. The reasons are the country’s complex organization, a lack of leadership and finances, an abundance of pilot projects, very long implementation and change processes, a healthcare system driven by providers and different cultures of action. However, new projects and ongoing research can help overcome these barriers. The primary care zones in Flanders, the National Hospital Plan and the Federal Plan to support mental health in particular are luxating opportunities. Well planned research is urgently needed to confirm the hope these projects arouse.

    Keywords: Integrated Healthcare Systems, Chronic Care, Fragmentation, Belgium
  • Anthony J. Culyer * Page 45

    Oortwijn et al continue their guide to good practice in the use of deliberative processes in health technology assessment (HTA) based on a survey of international practice. This is useful, and I applaud their care in maintaining objectivity, especially regarding the treatment of moral and politically controversial issues, in reporting how jurisdictions have handled such matters in designing HTA procedures and in their execution. To their suggestions for future research, I add: the historical development of deliberation in healthcare decision-making and in other fields of public choice, with comparisons of methods, successes and failures; development of guidance on the design and use of deliberative processes that enhance decision-making when there is no consensus amongst the decision-makers; ways of identifying and managing context-free and context-sensitive evidence; and a review of high-level capacity building to raise awareness of HTA and the use of knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) and deliberation amongst policy makers, especially in low and middle-income countries.

    Keywords: HTA, Deliberation, Consensus, Political Bias
  • Miek Smeets, Karolien Baldewijns, Bert Vaes, Hilde Vandenhoudt * Page 46

    The authors of “Integration or Fragmentation of Health Care? Examining Policies and Politics in a Belgian Case Study” present a fresh perspective on the inertia of integrated care (IC) implementation. They conclude that the decisive power in Belgium is fragmented and undermines efforts towards IC. As researchers in integrated heart failure (HF) care and active primary healthcare professionals, we comment on the three policy initiatives evaluated by Martens et al from a bottom-up perspective. A Learning Healthcare Network (LHCN) was established September 2019 to overcome fragmentation, the lack of evaluation and capacity loss each time a pilot project ends. This commentary wishes to illustrate that a LHCN can be a powerful meso-level mechanism to engage in alignment work and to overcome macro-level barriers that are often difficult to change and not supportive of IC

    Keywords: Integrated Care, Chronic Care, Learning Healthcare Network, Macro-Level Barriers, Belgium, Health Policy Reform
  • Roland Bal *, Iris Wallenburg Page 47

    Organisation-wide studies in cost and quality of care are rare, and Wackers et al make a valuable contribution in synthesizing the literature on this issue. Their paper provides a good overview of initiatives and a list of factors that help in furthering organisation-wide change. The eleven factors they distill from the literate however remain rather abstract and more work needs to be done to contextualize the factors and the work that is needed to accomplish them and to see how they are aligned. Challenges in healthcare quality and costs moreover increasingly cross organizational boundaries and we need new methods to study and evaluate these.

    Keywords: Quality Improvement, Cost Containment, Complex Interventions
  • Kenneth Bond * Page 48

    The second edition of the practical guide for evidence-informed deliberative processes (EDPs) is an important addition to the growing guidance on deliberative processes supporting priority setting in healthcare. While the practical guide draws on an extensive amount of information collected on established and developing processes within a range of countries, EDPs present health technology assessment (HTA) bodies with several challenges. (1) Basing recommendations on current processes that have not been well-evaluated and that have changed over time may lead to weaker legitimacy than desired. (2) The requirement for social learning among stakeholders may require increased resourcing and blur the boundary between moral deliberation and political negotiation. (3) Robust evaluation should be based on an explicit theory of change, and some process outcomes may be poor guides to overall improvement of EDPs. This comment clarifies and reinforces the recommendations provided in the practical guide.

    Keywords: Deliberation, Deliberative Processes, Health Technology Assessment, Legitimacy, Priority Setting, Stakeholder Involvement
  • Andrés M. Rubiano *, Angelica Clavijo Page 49

    Trauma registries play an important role in building capacity for trauma systems. Regularly, trauma registries exist in high-income countries (HICs) but not in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Neurotrauma includes common conditions, like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and spinal cord injuries. The development of organized neurotrauma care is crucial for improving the quality of care in less-resourced areas. The recent article published in International Journal of Health Policy and Management by Barthélemy et al entitled “Neurotrauma Surveillance in National Registries of Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review and Comparative Analysis of Data Dictionaries” adds an important body of literature to improve understanding of the importance of these types of efforts by promoting organized neurotrauma care systems in LMICs. Here, we provide a short commentary based on our experience with the Latin America and the Caribbean Neurotrauma Registry (LATINO-TBI) in the Latin America (LATAM) region.

    Keywords: LMICs, Neurotrauma, Trauma Registry, Trauma Systems, Latin-America
  • Javier Guzman * Page 50

    As countries around the world seek to deliver universal health coverage, they must prioritize which services to pay for with public funds, to whom, and at what cost. Countries are increasingly using health technology assessment (HTA) to identify which interventions provide the best value for money and merit inclusion in their health benefit packages (HBPs)—the explicit lists of health services provided using public funds. Oortwijn et al understand the importance of providing practical guidance on the foundation of HBP design, and their article, “Evidence-Informed Deliberative Processes for Health Benefit Package Design – Part II: A Practical Guide,” provides recommendations for HTA bodies to improve the legitimacy of their decision-making by incorporating four elements in their HBP procedures: stakeholder involvement, evidence-informed evaluation, transparency, and appeal. This article proposes three approaches to enhance the value of the guide: moving from structure to compliance and performance, prioritizing key issues of legitimacy within HBP processes, and acknowledging potential the costs and risks associated with the use of this framework.

    Keywords: Health Technology Assessment, Evidence-Informed Deliberative Processes, Legitimacy, Health Benefit Package
  • Viroj Tangcharoensathien *, Warisa Panichkriangkrai, Woranan Witthayapipopsakul, Walaiporn Patcharanarumol Page 51

    Progressive realization of universal health coverage (UHC) requires health systems capacity to provide quality service and financial risk protection which supports access to services without financial hardship. Government health spending in low-income countries (LICs) has been low and heavily relied on external donor resources and out-ofpocket payment. This has resulted in high prevalence of catastrophic health spending or foregone care by those who cannot afford. Under fiscal constraints posed by pandemic, reforms in LICs should focus on efficiency through health resource waste reduction. Targeting the poor even with low level of health spending can make a significant health gain. Investment in primary healthcare and health workforce is the foundation for realizing UHC which cannot be postponed. Innovative tax on health hazardous products, conditional debt relief can increase fiscal space for health; while international collaboration to accelerate coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine coverage can bring LICs out of acute phase of pandemic.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Universal Health Coverage, Low-Income Countries, Health Expenditure, Service Coverage, Unmet Healthcare Needs
  • Martin Mckee *, Olivier J. Wouters Page 52

    Regulation of health technologies must be rigorous, instilling trust among both healthcare providers and patients. This is especially important for the control and supervision of the growing use of artificial intelligence in healthcare. In this commentary on the accompanying piece by Van Laere and colleagues, we set out the scope for applying artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector and outline five key challenges that regulators face in dealing with these modernday technologies. Addressing these challenges will not be easy. While artificial intelligence applications in healthcare have already made rapid progress and benefitted patients, these applications clearly hold even more potential for future developments. Yet it is vital that the regulatory environment keep up with this fast-evolving space of healthcare in order to anticipate and, to the extent possible, prevent the risks that may arise.

    Keywords: Regulation, Clinical Decision Support, Artificial Intelligence
  • Joachim P. Sturmberg * Page 53

    The systemic failure of organisational learning should not come as a surprise – after all every system delivers exactly what it is designed for. Knowledge management/transfer is a property of the organisational system rather than a particular technique. Hence, knowledge management/transfer is about the contextual framing in which learning focused on understanding can occur. Looking through a system lens any research field can be defined as a complex adaptive organisation, and its culture determines if and how learning and knowledge transfer (or shared learning) can occur. Creating and maintain a learning culture requires leadership that perpetuates continuous dialogues to achieve tacit and explicit knowledge exchange.

    Keywords: Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Translation, Systems Thinking, Complex Adaptive Organisations, Organisational Learning, Philosophy of Science
  • Ayman Fouda *, Naomi Moy Page 54

    The COVID-19 System Shock Framework (CSSF) tested the resilience of service providers throughout the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Australia. In this commentary, we tackle the topic of the CSSF applicability in less mature health systems and propose elements or dimensions that could be added to provide comprehensive response to future shocks. We acknowledge the fact that information systems, telehealth, and standard operation procedures constitute important pillars of system shock frameworks. However, there are doubts on the applicability of such pillars in middle- and low-income countries where the infrastructure is weaker compared to high-income countries and the digital divide is wider. Moreover, while it provided a paramount solution to deliver health services during the pandemic, the negative impact of telehealth should be addressed. In addition, we propose that CSSF should consider focusing on the continuity of the other medical conditions, which may have been affected due to the mitigation policies. Finally, we propose adding a dimension on the evaluation of CSSF to provide quantifiable and comparable assessment with other providers or systems.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Preparedness Frameworks, Australia, Health System, Health Policy
  • Ansgar Wuebker * Page 55

    Wackers and colleagues’ scoping review provides an informative and well-structured overview of hospital-based case studies focusing on integrated hospital strategies that seek to improve quality, while reducing or containing costs. Wackers et al take a hospital level perspective and evaluate facilitators and barriers to the successful implementation of those hospital strategies. I complement the hospital level perspective of Wackers et al with an analysis from a health system perspective. Regulations at the superordinate system level might influence decisions at the hospital level that are relevant for costs and quality of care. In this commentary, I discuss how interventions at the system level might affect hospital quality. The results suggest that especially competition between hospitals, pay for performance (PfP) initiatives in combination with publication of quality information, but also greater experience of hospital staff (as proxied by the volume outcome relationship) may provide impulses for improving quality of care.

    Keywords: Hospital Quality, Health System, Competition, Pro-Market Reforms, Volume-Outcome
  • Dolores Jiménez-Rubio * Page 56

    This comment draws on the study by Rotulo et al about the effects of fiscal decentralization on access, utilization and availability of healthcare resources across Italian regions. We start by discussing the recent trends in health system decentralization worldwide, and then reflect on the rationale and main benefits and the key complexities and challenges of this much debated reform. We address these issues with reference to the recent experience of Italy as well as that of other comparable highly decentralized countries, most notably Spain, paying particular attention to their similarities and contrasts. We conclude that decentralization of health services poses complex challenges and trade-offs which may require careful design of equalisation mechanisms, framework regulation and efficient coordination mechanisms by central and sub central governments.

    Keywords: Health System Decentralization, Health Outcomes, Healthcare Performance, Regional Inequalities
  • Noni E. Macdonald *, Ève Dubé, Jeannette Comeau Page 57

    Under-vaccination is a complex problem that is not simple to address whether this is for routine childhood immunization or for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination. Vaccination mandates has been one policy instrument used to try to increase vaccine uptake. While the concept may appear straight forward there is no standard approach. The decision to shift to a more coercive mandated program may be influenced by both functional and/or political needs. With mandates there may be patient and/or public push back. Anti-mandate protests and increased public polarization has been seen with COVID-19 vaccine mandates. This may negatively impact on vaccine acceptance ie, be counterproductive, causing more harm than overall good in the longer term. We need a better understanding of the political and functional needs that drive policy change towards mandates as well as cases studies of the shorter- and longer-term outcomes of mandates in both routine and pandemic settings.

    Keywords: Vaccine Mandates, Vaccine Hesitancy, Vaccine Acceptance, Vaccination Politics, COVID-19 Vaccines, Childhood Vaccines
  • Dinesh R. Pai * Page 58

    As health systems transition to value-based care delivery models, reducing costs and improving quality of care without sacrificing either remains a challenge for many healthcare organizations. There is extensive research on hospital costs, however, works addressing the complex relationship between hospital costs and the quality of care have been limited. In this commentary, I expound on the scoping review on integrated hospital strategies by Wackers et al that aim to improve quality while lowering costs. Specifically, I reiterate the complexity of the relationship between cost and quality and delve into major interdependent themes identified by the authors as relevant for the implementation of hospitals’ integrated strategy.

    Keywords: Hospital, Cost Containment, Quality Improvement, Value-Based Healthcare, Engagement, Health Information Technology
  • Sally Brailsford * Page 59

    Holmström et al provide an interesting and thought-provoking contribution to a perennial problem: why, despite a vast number of applications of simulation modelling in healthcare over the past 70 years, there is still remarkably little evidence of successful implementation of model results. Their paper is a retrospective analysis of five case studies, all undertaken as consultancy, that used a blend of system dynamics (SD) modelling and action research (AR). This commentary assesses the effectiveness of this approach in achieving implementation, based on the evidence presented, and discusses some of the issues raised. These issues include a comparison of Holmström’s approach with group model building (GMB) in SD, the differences between healthcare modelling projects undertaken by (a) business consultants and (b) academics, and the challenges of undertaking ‘systematic’ reviews of the grey literature.

    Keywords: Simulation, Implementation, System Dynamics, Action Research
  • Jasmina Ilicic, Stacey Brennan, Katherine Cullerton * Page 60

    Marketing responses to sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes are understudied in the literature. Previous research has been limited to examining price and advertising, in particular promotions responses. Forde et al advocate for a focus on exploring a range of marketing responses to a SSB tax, with an emphasis on the marketing mix (price, promotion, product, and place). Their qualitative findings from the United Kingdom focus mostly on possible product and price decisions, with limited discussion of place and promotions decisions. We argue that the proposed marketing mix decisions may be used to avoid or side-step a SSB tax and that their likelihood of adoption may be dependent upon additional factors besides brand strength, reputation, and portfolio size highlighted by Forde and colleagues, such as organizational capabilities, industry competition, and brand positioning. We recommend future research examine the importance of consumer behaviour in developing marketing programs and in response to the marketing mix levers pulled by industry.

    Keywords: Soft Drink Levy, Tax, Marketing, Health Policy, Soda
  • Juan I. Baeza * Page 61

    Historically healthcare services have largely developed on an incremental basis, with various piecemeal changes and some notable policy leaps that illustrate a punctuated equilibrium health policy process. More recently policy-makers have attempted, successfully and unsuccessfully, to reconfigure healthcare services to address perceived problems in the delivery of important services such as stroke, cancer, and trauma. Perry et al provide a welcome addition to research in this area by focusing on the importance of history in a reconfiguration of cancer services in Greater Manchester (GM). Perry et al analyse how and why this configuration was successful after several failed attempts in the past and in this commentary, I want to reflect on the explanatory role health policy analysis can contribute to studying the reconfiguration of healthcare services.

    Keywords: Service Reconfiguration, Policy Process, Evidence, Path Dependency, Framing
  • Kathrin Lauber * Page 62

    A growing evidence base indicates that sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes are an effective tool to help reduce excess sugar intake. The effects of SSB taxes and the mechanisms which underlie them, however, are dependent on a number of interrelated factors such as policy design and responses of industry and consumers. Forde and colleagues contribute to unpacking these mechanisms by exploring the way in which the UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) shaped the four Ps of soft drinks marketing: product, price, placement, and promotion. This commentary builds on the authors’ insights by connecting them to existing knowledge on corporate political activity and the commercial determinants of health (CDOH) more broadly. Specifically, I discuss the risk that an industry framing of regulation-induced marketing changes as a voluntary step towards corporate responsibility undermines the need for government intervention to address obesity in other contexts and countries. I conclude by arguing that the public health community would benefit from considering marketing responses to regulation alongside industry narratives about these changes.

    Keywords: Obesity, Tax, Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Lobbying
  • Ahmad Fuady * Page 63

    Achieving the targets of eliminating tuberculosis (TB) requires a combination of biomedical, epidemiological, and social approaches. Having hitted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic which diminishes the financial capacity of TB-affected households, the importance of delivering socioeconomic support to TB-affected household emerges. However, the evidence of TB-related socioeconomic support is still scarce, and some questions are left unanswered. A sequential explanatory mixed-methods study by Dave and Rupani shows that the direct benefit transfer (DBT), a form of cash transfer, to TB-affected households improves TB treatment outcomes in India despite the challenges. Some critical issues remain to be discussed: trading-off between the amount of cash and its sustainability, choosing the most appropriate support packages, detecting, and reaching the target population, and arranging the most effective delivery strategy. Knowledge gap remains to be answered, and a global research agenda and political commitment are critical to encourage more evidence in delivering socioeconomic support for TB control.

    Keywords: Cash Transfer, Financial Protection, Nutrition, Socioeconomic Support, Tuberculosis
  • Walter Morris, Ana Correa *, Rolando Leiva Page 64

      At the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, in the absence of pharmaceutical interventions, countries resorted to containment measures to stem the spread of the disease. In this paper, we have conducted a global study using a sample of 46 countries to evaluate whether these containment measures resulted inunemployment.


      We use a difference-in-differences (DID) specification with a heterogenous intervention to show the varying intensity effect of containment measures on unemployment, on a sample of 46 countries. We explain variations in unemployment from January-June 2020 using stringency of containment measures, controlling for gross domestic product (GDP) growth, inflation rate, exports, cases of COVID-19 per million, COVID-19-specific fiscal spending, time fixed effects, region fixed effects, and region trends. We conduct further subset analyses by COVID-cases quintiles and gross national income (GNI) per capita quintiles.


      The median level of containment stringency in our sample was 43.7. Our model found that increasing stringency to this level would result in unemployment increasing by 1.87 percentage points (or 1.67 pp, after controlling for confounding). For countries with below median COVID-19 cases and below median GNI per capita, this effect is larger.


      Containment measures have a strong impact on unemployment. This effect is larger in poorer countries and countries with low COVID-19 cases. Given that unemployment has profound effects on mortality and morbidity, this consequence of containment measures may compound the adverse health effects of the pandemic for the most vulnerable groups. It is necessary for governments to consider this in future pandemic management, and to attempt to alleviate the impact of containment measures via effective fiscal spending.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Unemployment, Public Health, Containment, Lockdown, Fiscal Policy
  • John Øvretveit * Page 65

    The article that this commentary considers describes the use of systems modelling in an action research (AR) project that helped improvement teams to understand the dynamics of their service as a system. This commentary seeks to make the complex article easier to understand for those unfamiliar with the subjects. It describes the advantages, disadvantages and benefits, and suggests developments of this approach for research and practice using digital technologies. The conclusion of the commentary is that dynamic system modelling combined with AR is useful for certain purposes and can produce benefits in terms of a more sophisticated understanding of systems and feedback loops for practitioners. However, there are challenges for researchers unfamiliar with AR and dynamic system modelling as well workshop facilitation expertise.

    Keywords: Action Research, System Modelling, Quality Improvement, Methodology
  • Marissa A. Boeck *, Hussein Ssenyonjo, Olive C. Kobusingye Page 66

    Injuries are a public health crisis. Neurotrauma, a specific type of injury, is a leading cause of death and disability globally, with the largest burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, there is a lack of quality neurotrauma-specific data in LMICs, especially at the national level. Without standard criteria for what constitutes a national registry, and significant challenges frequently preventing this level of data collection, we argue that singleinstitution or regional databases can provide significant value for context-appropriate solutions. Although granular data for larger populations and a universal minimum dataset to enable comparison remain the gold standard, we must put progress over perfection. It is critical to engage local experts to explore available data and build effective information systems to inform solutions and serve as the foundation for quality and process improvement initiatives. Other items to consider include adequate resource allocation and leveraging of technology as we work to address the persistent but largely preventable injury pandemic.

    Keywords: Neurotrauma, Registry, Public Health, Surveillance, Low Resource Setting, Injury
  • Haniye Sadat Sajadi, Mohamed Jama, Reza Majdzadeh * Page 67

    The evidence-informed deliberative processes (EDPs) guide provides a practical framework for fair priority setting of the health benefits package (HBP) that countries can reasonably use. The steps presented in the EDPs are applicable for prioritising health services in designing HBP and are consistent with practical experience in countries. However, institutionalisation must be considered an element of fairness in the priority-setting process if the aim is to reach broader goals of a health system, such as universal health coverage (UHC). Otherwise, the EDPs for priority setting might not be integrated into the formal health system or impactful, resulting in a waste of time and resources, which is unfair. Institutionalisation means formalising the desired change as an embedded and integrated system so that the change lasts over time. For the institutionalisation of EPDs, four stages are suggested, which are (1) establishing a supportive legal framework, (2) designating governance and institutional structure, (3) stipulating the EDPs processes and (4) individual and institutional capacity building.

    Keywords: Universal Health Coverage, Health Sector Reform, Essential Health Services, Priority Setting, Sustainability, Institutionalisation
  • Anita Kothari *, Jacqui Cameron Page 68

    The critical interpretive synthesis by Borst and colleagues offered a new perspective on knowledge translation (KT) sustainability from the perspective of Science and Technology Studies. From our applied health services perspective, we found several interesting ideas to bring forward. First, the idea that KT sustainability includes the ongoing activation of networks led to several future research questions. Second, while not entirely a new concept, understanding how KT actors work strategically and continuously with institutional rules and regulations to sustain KT practice was noteworthy. We add to the discussion by emphasizing the importance of non-researcher voices (clinicians, administrators, policy-makers, patients, carers, public) in sustaining KT practice. We also remind readers that the health ecosystem is dynamic and interdependent, where one system level influences and is influenced by another, and that these constant adaptations suggest that understanding KT practices cannot be a one-off event but represent repeated moments for transformative learning.

    Keywords: Knowledge Translation, Networks, Research Co-Production, Non-Researcher Voices, Health Learning Systems
  • Pádraig Carmody * Page 69

    African development is defined by a number of meta-trends, including climate disruption, digitalisation, informalisation, regionalisation and most recently the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The paper under consideration here is informed primarily by two of these: regionalism and the COVID-19 pandemic. Africa, or at least parts of it, have been severely affected by pandemics in recent decades. At the same time deepening regionalisation allows for more coordinated and effective actions to mitigate their worst effects. However, to date, regional integration efforts have not generally delivered desired results, and in the area of Health Science Research (HSciR) specifically, which is the area of focus for this paper. This important paper considers the nature of current activities in relation to health research by regional organizations on the continent. It provides a baseline study and incipient manifesto for increased effectiveness and greater contribution in the area of HSciR on the continent.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Geopolitics, Health Research, Africa
  • Indra De Soysa * Page 70

    Several scholars across many disciplines argue that neoliberal, free-market economic conditions drive inequalities, generating poverty and misery due to unfair austerity, ultimately affecting human health. Professor Labonté’s prescription is that we jettison these policies targeting economic growth and development for generating greater fairness for the world’s poor. This rejoinder argues contrarily that the criticism of neoliberal policies are misplaced, and that degrowth is really “self-imposed austerity,” which will not benefit the poor. This rejoinder scrutinizes some simple stylized fact and assesses the soundness of the broader arguments. The evidence suggests clearly that becoming wealthy and following prudent economic policies is the best path to improving population health, equity, and other progressive outcomes. Badly required growth for the poor comes from free markets and good governance, and equity for the sake of fairness neither results in better health outcomes, nor an improved environment.

    Keywords: Inequality, Population Health, Economic Development, Degrowth, Climate Change
  • Michael J. Distefano * Page 71

    An evidence-informed deliberative process (EDP) is defined as “a practical and stepwise approach for health technology assessment (HTA) bodies to enhance legitimate health benefit package design based on deliberation between stakeholders to identify, reflect and learn about the meaning and importance of values, informed by evidence on these values.” In this commentary, I discuss some considerations for EDPs that arise from acknowledging the difference between social and moral values. First, the best practices for implementing EDPs may differ depending on whether the approach is grounded in moral versus social values. Second, the goals of deliberation may differ when focused on moral versus social values. I conclude by offering some considerations for future research to support the use of EDPs in practice, including the need to assess how different approaches to appraisal (eg, more quantitative versus qualitative) impact perceptions of the value of deliberation itself.

    Keywords: Deliberation, Health Technology Assessment, Legitimacy, Ethics, Value Judgments, Accountability for Reasonableness
  • Anna Odone *, Giulia Dallagiacoma, Giacomo Pietro Vigezzi Page 72

    The debate around vaccine mandates has flourished over the last decade, with several countries introducing or extending mandatory childhood vaccinations. In a recent study, Attwell and Hannah explore how functional and political pressures added to public health threats in selected countries, motivating governments to increase the coerciveness of their childhood vaccine regimes. In this commentary, we reflect on whether such model applies to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) case and how the pandemic has re-shuffled the deck around vaccine mandates. We identify COVID-19 immunisation policies’ distinctive aspects as we make the case of countries implementing mass immunisation programmes while relying on digital COVID-19 certificates as an indirect form of mandate to increase vaccine uptake. We conclude by acknowledging that different forms of mandatory vaccination might serve as a shortcut to protect population health in times of emergency, underlining, however, that the ultimate public health goal is to promote voluntary, informed, and responsible adherence to preventive behaviours.

    Keywords: Vaccine coverage, Mandatory Immunisation, COVID-19 Pandemic, Risk Perception, Public Health
  • Seye Abimbola * Page 73

    The article by Rotulo and colleagues suggests that health sector fiscal decentralisation has been bad for Italy. But given the complexity of fiscal decentralisation, this interpretation is not necessarily so. Their analysis was based on assumptions about causality that are better suited for simple interventions. Assumptions of simplicity show up as misleading artefacts in the conclusion of evaluations of complex interventions. Complex interventions work by triggering mechanisms – eg, reasoning and learning processes – that manifest differently across the units of a decentralised system, contingent on context, evolving over time. Evaluation findings can only be partial and provisional; neither summarily good nor bad. The goal of evaluating a complex intervention – such as decentralised governance – should be to understand how, under what circumstances and for whom they are good or bad – at a point in time.

    Keywords: Governance, Realist, Decentralisation, Complex Intervention, Evaluation, Health Systems
  • Eric Breton *, Yann Le Bodo Page 74

    We argue that the lessons drawn by Guglielmin and colleagues, from the Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach in the municipality of Kuopio, are of limited use to centralised health systems. There is a need for research more attuned to the circumstances of local governments that have little power over the provision of health programmes; yet can address a range of determinants of population health. In these cases, adopting a state-centric perspective may fail to capture the role of other actors such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local branches of state agencies. Evidence from France shows that centralised health systems can foster HiAP locally through political commitment and dedicated coordination staff whose role is to mobilise and support NGOs, inhabitants, and other local branches of regional and central governments. We highlight, as three important challenges, the issue of legitimacy, funding and positioning of the HiAP instrument in the local government structure.

    Keywords: HIAP, System Theory, Governance, Community Health, Health Inequalities, France
  • Alexis Benos * Page 75

    Reflecting on the up-to-date global experience of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is of crucial importance in order to draw conclusions needed for the design of policies aiming the prevention of new epidemics and the effective protection, preparedness and response of any new emerging. Ongoing environmental destruction, excess mortality by COVID-19 and non-COVID diseases reflecting the dismantlement and commodification of both public health services and healthcare services, deep economic crisis, increasing and deepening social inequalities are the main characteristics raised by the pandemic. The causes of the causes of all these are the dominant rules of the capitalistic system, driven mainly by the unlimited greed for profit on the expenses of the majority of the society. The effectiveness of any proposed correction of this system is discussed and the need for another society responding to the needs of the population is argued.

    Keywords: COVID-19 Pandemic, Public Health, Healthcare, Causes of the Causes, Capitalism
  • Sarah L. Dalglish *, Olutobi A. Sanuade, Stephanie Topp Page 76

    Medical professionals exercised structural and productive power in the Global Fund’s Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in Nigeria, directly impacting the selection of approaches to HIV/AIDS care, as described in a case study by Lassa and colleagues. This research contributes to a robust scholarship on how biomedical power inhibits a holistic understanding of health and prevents the adoption of solutions that are socially grounded, multidisciplinary, and co-created with communities. We highlight Lassa and colleagues’ findings demonstrating the ‘long arm’ of global health institutions in country-level health policy choices, and reflect on how medical dominance within global institutions serves as a tool of control in ways that pervert incentives and undermine equity and effectiveness. We call for increased research and advocacy to surface these conduits of power and begin to loosen their hold in the global health policy agenda.

    Keywords: Nigeria, Power, Medical Professionals, Global Health, Decolonization
  • Graham P. Martin * Page 77

    Perry and colleagues’ study of a programme to reconfigure cancer surgery provision in Greater Manchester highlights the importance of accounting for history in making successful change. In this short commentary, I expand on some of Perry and colleagues’ key findings. I note the way in which those leading change in Greater Manchester combined formal expertise in change management with sensitivity to local context, enhancing their approach to change through attention to details around relationships, events and assumptions that might otherwise have derailed the process. I identify lessons for others in how best to account for history in leading change, highlighting in particular the need to attempt to access and understand forms of history that may be suppressed, difficult-to-articulate, or otherwise marginalised.

    Keywords: Change Management, Health Policy, Service Reconfiguration, Service Reorganisation, System Transformation
  • Nele Jensen * Page 78

    Professor Labonté’s editorial is an important intervention that reiterates the stark socio-economic and health inequities that were exposed and perpetuated during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to call on the public health community to hold politicians to account for their promises of ‘building back better.’ The editorial makes present how quickly pandemic promises seem to have become dislodged by an ostensibly endless cycle of political and economic crises. But it also expresses a hope that lessons from the pandemic will eventually serve to challenge prevailing (economic) policy orthodoxy and feed a collective demand for more progressive social, economic and environmental justice-oriented politics.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Equity, Public Health, Social Justice, Capitalism
  • Fernando Rubinstein *, Alejandro Blumenfeld Page 79

    Tuberculosis (TB) still represents a major public health problem in many regions of the world. TB control can only be achieved through a comprehensive and inclusive response which takes into account both upstream and downstream coordinated interventions related to structural determinants such as poverty, nutrition, sanitation, housing and access to healthcare as well as timely diagnosis and support throughout the course of treatment. Several social and financial support strategies have been proposed to improve TB treatment adherence, including conditional cash transfers (CCTs). In this context, demonstrating that social protection directly improves a specific health outcome using routinely collected data, incomplete registries or surveillance reports brings about many methodological challenges. We briefly discuss this paper and some limitations, describe main findings from our own research in this area and make a call to expand social protection interventions to address structural conditions of those most affected.

    Keywords: Tuberculosis, Social Support, Poverty, Health Policy
  • Shanthi Ramanathan * Page 80

    The original article provides a detailed and insightful presentation of enablers and detractors for research participation, translation, and impact, at a regional Australian hospital and health service. This information builds on existing knowledge, from the perspective of a non-metropolitan healthcare organisation. It stands to inform all healthcare organisations keen to embed research into their institutions. However, what the article fails to do is present the results of the research impact evaluation in a systematic and useful way for the reader to assess the benefits of research investment by a healthcare organisation including delivery of better quality care and improved patient outcomes. This commentary suggests why such information is critical to justify continued research investment by healthcare organisations and to showcase the potential benefits of the embedded research model. It also discusses the limitations of undertaking impact evaluation retrospectively and suggests that a prospective approach coupled with proper data collection systems and processes upfront could help future reporting of organisational research impact.

    Keywords: Research Impact Evaluation, Australia, Research Investment
  • Hanna E. Schenck, Halinder S. Mangat * Page 81

    Neurotrauma surveillance data on burden and severity of disease serves as a tool to define legislations, guide highyield risk-specific prevention, and evaluate and monitor management strategies for adequate resource allocation. In this scoping review, Barthélemy and colleagues demonstrate the gap in neurotrauma surveillance in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and suggest strategies for governance in neurotrauma surveillance. We underline state accountability as well as the need for the close integration of academic and tertiary care clinical practitioners and policy-makers in addressing the public health crisis caused by neurotrauma. Additionally, multiple sources for surveillance must be included, especially in communities where victims may remain without access to formal healthcare. Finally, we offer insights into possible ways of increasing the visibility of neurotrauma on political agendas.

    Keywords: Surveillance, Neurotrauma, Health Policy, Governance, Data Elements, Low-, Middle-Income Countries
  • Jennifer Lacy-Nichols * Page 82

    Taxes on sugary drinks are often used to encourage companies to reformulate their products to reduce the sugar content. This comment discusses how product reformulation can strengthen the market and political power of the food industry, and questions whether these political risks outweigh the public health benefits. It proposes the term ‘corporate harm minimisation’ to describe the strategic adaptation of a public health harm reduction strategy to align with company or industry goals. It concludes by reflecting on the other ways that corporations influence health beyond the production and marketing of ‘unhealthy commodities,’ and why public health actors must explore other strategies to challenge powerful corporations.

    Keywords: Reformulation, Corporate Power, Commercial Determinants, Corporate Political Activity, Public Health
  • Unni Gopinathan * Page 83

    In their recent article on evidence-informed deliberative processes (EDPs) for health benefit package decisions, Oortwijn et al examine how the different steps of EDP play out in eight countries with relatively mature institutions for using health technology assessment (HTA). This commentary examines how EDP addresses stakeholder involvement in decision-making for equitable progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). It focuses on the value of inclusiveness, the need to pay attention to trade-offs between desirable features of EDP and the need to broaden the scope of processes examined beyond those specifically tied to producing and using HTAs . It concludes that EDPs have contributed to significant progress for health benefit design decisions worldwide and holds much potential in further application. At the same time, this commentary calls for prudence: investments in EDPs should be efficiently deployed to enhance the pre-existing legislative, institutional and political framework that exist to promote fair and legitimate healthcare decisions.

    Keywords: Inclusiveness, Fairness, Legitimacy, Deliberation, Health Technology Assessment, Priority-Setting
  • Ninna Meier * Page 84

    This article discusses the work of Borst et al in which they suggest ‘sustaining work’ as a term that covers the efforts of actors to sustain the use of health research in policy and practice through three practices. I suggest that two of these, contexting and institutionalizing, need to be further unpacked to understand how and why they are important for sustaining work in knowledge translation (KT). To contribute here, I discuss KT as processes of organizational change that occurs within and across organizations, often involving actors with different views on and approaches to the use of health research in policy and practice. These actors will likely have very different understandings of what the context for using research is and they are likely be members of competing or conflicting institutions. Future research needs to take such elements into account to improve our understanding and practice of sustaining work.

    Keywords: Knowledge Translation, Context, Organizational Change
  • Chun-Bae Kim * Page 85

    Since 2001, when Uganda abolished user fees to improve the accessibility of healthcare, out-of-pocket costs still account for 42% of total health expenditure. Even if universal health coverage (UHC) is achieved on the demandside, government authorities face political and economic challenges due to soaring burden of diseases. Therefore, this study aimed to re-analyze the implementation process according to three pillars by World Health Organization (WHO) based on Korean UHC-related articles. In terms of breadth, the national health insurance (NHI) in Korea UHC was established from 1977 for employees to 1989 for self-employed. In terms of depth, benefit packages in Korea UHC have expanded from essential medical services to expensive care (ultrasono, computerized tomography, etc) including benefit period. Finally, in terms of height of coverage, the government has tried to relieve financial burden of households with catastrophes and enhance benefit plan for major diseases till now. This historical legacy for UHC in Korea can pose lessons to policy-makers in developing countries including Uganda and Ghana.

    Keywords: Universal Coverage, Financial Burden, Health Insurance, Benefit Package, South Korea
  • Sander Ubels, Erik M. Van Raaij * Page 86

    Policy-makers and hospital boards throughout the world have implemented different measures to create and sustain effective hospital-physician relationships. The ‘integrated funding’ policy reform in the Netherlands was aimed at increasing hospital-physician alignment and led to the unforeseen formation of medical specialist enterprises (MSEs): a fiscal entity representing all self-employed physicians in a hospital. It is unknown how hospitals and MSEs perceive their alignment and how they govern the relationship. This study explores the hospital-MSE relationship, and how governance styles influence perceived alignment in this relationship.


      A multiple case study of five non-academic hospitals in the Netherlands was performed. Data was derived from two sources: (1) analysis of hospital-MSE contracts and (2) semi-structured interviews with hospital and MSE board members. Contracts were analysed using a predefined contract analysis template. Interview recordings were transcribed and subsequently coded using the sensitizing concepts approach.


      Contracts, relational characteristics, governance styles and perceived alignment differed substantially between cases. Two out of five contracts were prevention contracts, one was a mixed type, and two were promotion contracts. However, in all cases the contract played no role in the relationship. The use of incentives varied widely between the hospitals; most incentives were financial penalties. The governance style varied between contractual for two hospitals, mixed for one hospital and predominantly relational for two hospitals. Development of a shared business strategy was identified as an important driver of relational governance, which was perceived to boost alignment.


      Large variation was observed regarding relational characteristics, governance and perceived alignment. MSE formation was perceived to have contributed to hospital-physician alignment by uniting physicians, boosting physicians’ managerial responsibilities, increasing financial alignment and developing shared business strategies. Relational governance was found to promote intensive collaboration between hospital and MSE, and thus may improve alignment in the hospital-physician relationship.

    Keywords: Hospital-Physician Relationship, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Contracts, Governance, Alignment, The Netherlands
  • Eivind Engebretsen *, Mona Baker Page 87

    This conceptual paper argues the need for narrative preparedness, understood as the ability to engage and empathize with peoples’ stories and the values they encode, assess them based on the universe in which people live, and acknowledge the narrative rationality of each story – even when it conflicts with the rationality of science. Expanding ‘health preparedness’ to encompass ‘narrative preparedness’ complements the ideals of patient centeredness, which are sometimes betrayed when implemented into concrete decisions because the rationality of science that underpins medical practice fails to make sense of patients’ stories. We outline the central tenets of narrative preparedness and demonstrate its relevance by discussing various responses to mainstream discourses on COVID-19 as a case in point. We discuss and further develop Fisher’s narrative paradigm, which provides a model that complements traditional, scientific rationality with attention to narrative rationality and a radical democratic ground for health political critique. Applying the narrative paradigm to authentic examples of vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccination demonstrates how closer attention to the way narratives are assessed by different constituencies might help us mitigate some of the sources of resistance and misunderstanding that continue to plague public communication about important medical issues such as pandemics. Health authorities must acknowledge and engage with the stories people believe in and their reasons for doing so. The crucial question for the success of health policy interventions is not only ‘what are the facts’ but ‘how do these facts make sense to people, and why.’ To be prepared for the next pandemic, health professionals must learn to engage with people’s stories and the processes by which they come to be understood and assessed differently by various constituencies.

    Keywords: Narrative, Public Health, COVID-19, Preparedness, crisis, Trust
  • Kathleen L. Bagot, Tara Purvis, Shaun Hancock, Henry Zhao, Skye Coote, Damien Easton, Bruce CV Campbell, Stephen M. Davis, Geoff A. Donnan, Shane Foster, Francesca Langenberg, Karen Smith, Michael Stephenson, Stephen Bernard, Sharon Mcgowan, Bernard Yan, Peter Mitchell, Sandy Middleton, Dominique A. Cadilhac * Page 88

    Background  Internationally, Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) ambulances have changed pre-hospital acute stroke care delivery. MSU clinical and cost-effectiveness studies are emerging, but little is known about important factors for achieving sustainability of this innovative model of care.Methods  Mixed-methods study from the Melbourne MSU (operational since November 2017) process evaluation. Participant purposive sampling included clinical, operational and executive/management representatives from Ambulance Victoria (AV) (emergency medical service provider), the MSU clinical team, and receiving hospitals. Sustainability was defined as ongoing MSU operations, including MSU workforce and future model considerations. Theoretically-based on-line survey with Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), Self Determination Theory (SDT, Intrinsic Motivation), and open-text questions targeting barriers and benefits was administered (June-September 2019). Individual/group interviews were conducted, eliciting improvement suggestions and requirements for ongoing use. Descriptive and regression analyses (quantitative data) and directed content and thematic analysis (open text and interview data) were conducted.Results  There were 135 surveys completed. Identifying that the MSU was beneficial to daily work (β = 0.61), not experiencing pressure/tension about working on the MSU (β = 0.17) and thinking they did well working within the team model (β = 0.17) were significantly associated with wanting to continue working within the MSU model [R2 = 0.76; F(15, 60) = 12.76, P < .001]. Experiences varied between those on the MSU team and those working with the MSU. Advantages were identified for patients (better, faster care) and clinicians (interdisciplinary learning). Disadvantages included challenges integrating into established systems, and establishing working relationships. Themes identified from 35 interviews were MSU team composition, MSU vehicle design and layout, personnel recruitment and rostering, communication improvements between organisations, telemedicine options, MSU operations and dispatch specificity.Conclusion  Important factors affecting the sustainability of the MSU model of stroke care emerged. A cohesive team approach, with identifiable benefits and good communication between participating organisations is important for clinical and operational sustainability.

    Keywords: Stroke, Ambulances, Evaluation Studies, Program Sustainability
  • Karime Chahuán-Jiménez * Page 89

    This article aims to compare the foundations of the post-pandemic economy and its impact on health equity, according to Labonté with the economics theory. The methodology developed is based on bibliometrics analysis, the documents, and specifications for a cluster of concepts, allowing deepened exposure of Labonté, complementing with the latest publications on the post-pandemic economy. Finally, the results agreed with Labonté about to economic development for achieving an economy that allows health equity considering sustainable development and the possibility of achieving the livelihood of Green New Deal as a basis.

    Keywords: Post-pandemic Economics, Health Equity, Economic Theory, Conceptual Clusters, Sustainable Development
  • Laura Cornelsen *, Soledad Cuevas Page 90

    Health-related food policies, such as taxes on unhealthy food and drink, can act as catalysts for food industry to take action which may or may not align with the policy goal of improving population health. This commentary discusses the framework proposed by Forde et al in analysing the food industry marketing responses to the Soft Drink Industry Levy (SDIL), implemented in the United Kingdom in 2018. We suggest and discuss ways which may help broaden the use of the framework to other relevant policies. This includes widening the framework to cover strategies that may have not come up within the SDIL context but have been studied in other contexts. It would also be important to consider interactions between the strategies and with external factors influencing company decisions. Going forward, comprehensive evaluations of health-related policies should consider likely interactions with industry marketing strategies to fully understand potential impacts.

    Keywords: Food Industry, Marketing, Policy, Sugar, Tax
  • Nqobile Thango, Ronnie E. Baticulon, Laura Lippa * Page 91

    The paucity of robust neurotrauma data is felt most in regions that experience a higher burden of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The scoping review done by Barthélemy et al provides insight into the current state of national registries in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) while also exploring the tools required to standardize data collection. In this commentary, we reflect on the barriers to data collection (ie, creation and maintenance of a TBI registry) and explore how registries can aid both scientific output and preventative public awareness campaigns that may pave the way to improved health policy and social change that avert mortality and morbidity from TBI.

    Keywords: TBI, Health Policy, Neurotrauma Registry, Neurotrauma Surveillance, National Data Registries, Research
  • Kevin Croke * Page 92

    Nannini et al analyze barriers to national health insurance reforms in Uganda using a political economy approach primarily rooted in stakeholder analysis. This approach is valuable, not only for its clear description of the interestbased politics at play, but also for its extension of stakeholder analysis to include consideration of the role of ideas and institutions in the policy process. However this analysis, and others like it, could be further strengthened by adding insights from two different sources. The first is the comparative politics literature on the Ugandan regime. The second is a related approach which analyzes public service delivery in the context of a country’s underlying “political settlement.” Stakeholder-based approaches to health financing reform emphasize interest group conflict about the contents of policy reforms. By contrast, these complementary approaches imply distinct barriers to successful implementation of national health insurance in Uganda, rooted in the regime’s de-industrialization and the personalization of politics and resource allocation. They also suggest possible leverage points or avenues for progress which differ from those suggested by stakeholder analysis.

    Keywords: Health Financing Reform, Uganda, Stakeholder Analysis, Political Economy
  • Mirza Lalani *, Helen Hogan Page 93

    The Special Measures and Challenged Provider (SMCP) Regime introduced for struggling healthcare organisations in England represents a subtle shift to the scope of external regulation from performance oversight to include supporting internal service improvement. External regulation alone has a had a mixed impact on the quality of care and Vindrola-Padros and colleagues’ study highlights that externally driven improvement initiatives may also struggle to succeed in turning around performance. Principally, this is due to a failure in acknowledgment that poor performance results from a myriad of external and internal factors which coalesce to impede organisational performance. A struggling organisation may be indicative of wider issues in the local health and care system. Whole systems approaches to improvement with collaboration across providers and the effective use of data may support struggling organisations but their role maybe tempered with the increased centralisation of the delivery of improvement regimes such as SMCP.

    Keywords: Quality Improvement, Healthcare Regulation, Whole System Approaches, England
  • Nandita Murukutla *, Trish Cotter, Alexey Kotov Page 94

    Strong sugary drink taxes are effective at reducing sugary drinks consumption. In response, the sugary drinks industry employs various marketing strategies to undermine the taxes to protect and maintain its customer base. In their recent article in this journal, Forde et al present a framework for understanding how sugary drinks companies use marketing for this purpose. In this commentary, we reflect on this framework by drawing from recent experiences of sugary drinks industry marketing responses. Further, we review the global evidence on the instrumental role that strategic communication can play in protecting strong taxes from industry responses. We make a case for strategic communication as a vital tool in promoting and protecting sugary drinks tax proposals, both prior to and after their introduction.

    Keywords: Sugary Drink, Sugary Drink Tax, Strategic Communication, Mass Media Campaigns, Commercial Determinants, Corporate Influence
  • Arthur Bagonza *, David Musoke, Henry Wamani Page 95

    In their study on how Joint Health Inspections (JHI) were implemented in practice with a need to identify key facilitators or barriers for regulatory policy and practice, Tama et al found that innovative regulatory reforms markedly improved inspection scores among intervention health facilities albeit with challenges. Their article makes an important contribution to the body of knowledge in as far as regulation of health facilities is concerned. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), private health facilities are poorly regulated and yet, they purge gaps where public health facilities are inadequate as was demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, while regulation of public health facilities is standardized, the research by Tama and colleagues provides a unique opportunity to continue dialogue on how private health facilities can be regulated through inspection and supervision. Regulation of public and private health facilities continues to be contentious since both experience unique contextual challenges.

    Keywords: Regulation, Health Facilities, Low-, Middle-Income Countries
  • Ann M. Schraufnagel, Priya Shete * Page 96

    Addressing the social and structural determinants of tuberculosis (TB) through social protection programs is a central feature of global public health policy and disease elimination strategies. However, how best to implement such programs remains unknown. India’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) program is the largest cash transfer program in the world dedicated to supporting individuals affected by TB. Despite several studies aimed at evaluating the impact of DBT, many questions remain about its implementation, mechanisms of action, and effectiveness. Dave and Rupani’s mixed-methods evaluation of this program previously published in this journal offers valuable insights into the strengths and limitations of the DBT program in improving TB treatment outcomes. Their results also provide an opportunity for demonstrating how systematically collected data may be further analyzed and presented using implementation science, a field of study using methods to promote the systematic uptake of evidence-based interventions to support sustainable program scale-up.

    Keywords: Tuberculosis, Cash Transfer, Social Protection, Implementation Science, India
  • Elisa Chilet-Rosell *, Blanca Lumbreras Page 97

    Forde et al proposed an interesting framework to understand marketing response to a tax in sugary drinks based on stakeholder interviews. Sugary drinks regulation can lead to various strategies in the industry’s marketing activity. That is, it can either result in the industry introducing no changes or it can lead to changes, which can conflict or align with public health objectives. The importance of Forde and colleagues’ analysis lies in the potential for governments to anticipate the industry’s reaction to the legislation and the need of drivers to enable both big and small companies to follow the rules. Governments must not forget the importance of other contextual factors that will have an impact both on the development and implementation of this type of policies and on possible responses that could mitigate their impact such as public acceptance, the influence of mass media and corporate activities aimed at influencing policy.

    Keywords: Public Acceptance, Mass Media, Corporate Activities
  • Maximilian Meyer *, Jean N. Westenberg, R. Michael Krausz Page 98

    The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) addressed the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing innovative changes which made their health system resilient and responsive. For other healthcare systems, there are important takeaways. In the United States and Canada, an urgent widespread response is needed to address the overdose crisis, driven by potent synthetic opioids (ie, fentanyl and its derivates). We project the COVID-19 System Shock Framework (CSSF) on to the North American healthcare systems and suggest a Fentanyl System Shock Framework, which provides a framework for necessary changes and innovations to address the overdose crisis. To become resilient to the fentanyl system shock, core components as well as overarching values, health policy, and online technologies need to be adapted to reduce the death count and meet the evolving needs of marginalised individuals who use opioid. Future research should focus on scientifically assessing such implementations to guide evidence-based decision making.

    Keywords: Opioid Overdose Crisis, Fentanyl, COVID-19, Canada
  • Kathy Eljiz *, David Greenfield, Alison Derrett Page 99

    Recent events – on both a global scale and within individual countries – including the lockdowns associated with COVID-19 pandemic, inflation concerns, and political tensions, have increased pressure to reconfigure social services for ongoing sustainability. Healthcare services across the world are undergoing major system change (MSC). Given the complexity and different contextual drivers across healthcare systems, there is a need to use a variety of perspectives to improve our understanding of the processes for MSC. To expand the knowledge base and develop strategies for MSC requires analysing change projects from different perspectives to distil the elements that drove the success. We offer the Gateway Framework as a collaborative transformational system tool to assess and reorganise operations, services, and systems of healthcare organisations. This framework and guiding questions, accounts for past events whilst being proactive, future orientated, and derived from externally defined and a standardised requirements to promote safe, high-quality care.

    Keywords: Major System Change, Restructuring, Health Systems, Healthcare Safety, Healthcare Quality
  • John Ødemark * Page 100

    This commentary examines the claim made by Borst et al that knowledge translation (KT) should look to Science and Technology Studies (STS), the sociology of translation, and constructionist views on knowledge, and begin to think of the sustainability of a certain practice as construction work in continuous progress, and not as states to be reached once and for all. While endorsing this claim, the present commentary also argues that what it calls the “epistemic reframing” behind the new construal of KT in Borst must be supplemented with approaches that goes beyond the sociology of translation. The commentary claims that this epistemic shift hinges upon a shift in the narrative framing of KT, and that we need to consider the broader narrative and historical ideology of knowledge dissemination behind KT, and that a failure to do so, leaves us with KT seen as a linear transmission of “true” knowledge to peoples and places lacking such knowledge.

    Keywords: Knowledge Translation, Actor Network Theory, Sociology of Translation, Cultural Translation, Epistemology
  • Tanja Kuchenmüller *, Laura Dos Santos Boeira Page 101

    In their study of sustaining knowledge translation (KT) practices, Borst et al found that this process is an interplay of: (i) constructing and extending networks, (ii) creating contexts that support KT practices, and (iii) understanding how actors create, maintain, and disrupt institutions. Their article is an important contribution to the body of research promoting KT. In this commentary we reflect on the convergences and differences between the concepts of ‘sustaining’ and ‘institutionalizing’ KT, highlighting domains and processes related to the institutionalization, providing an analysis of KT landscape in Brazil and making a case for the need to increase countries’ routine use of evidence.

    Keywords: Knowledge Translation, Evidence-Informed Policy, Institutionalization, Institutional Capacity, Sustainability, Conceptual Framework
  • Michelle Amri *, Jesse B. Bump Page 102

    Health equity is no longer a central feature of Health in All Policies (HiAP) approaches despite its presence in select definitions of HiAP. In other words, HiAP is not just about considering health, but also health equity. But as HiAP has become more mainstream, its success around health equity has been muted and largely non-existent. Given the normative underpinning and centrality of equity in HiAP, equity should be better considered in HiAP and particularly when considering what ‘successful’ implementation may look like. Raising health on the radar of policy-makers is not mutually exclusive from considering equity. Taking an incremental approach to considering equity in HiAP can yield positive results. This article discusses these ideas and presents potential actions to restore HiAP’s once central equity objectives, which include: seeking synergies focused on health equity with those who hold different convictions, both in terms of goals and measures of success; considering the conditions that allow HiAP to be fostered, such as good governance; and drawing on research on HiAP and other multisectoral approaches.

    Keywords: Health in All Policies, Healthy Public Policy, Multisectoral Health Policy, Intersectoral Health Policy, Global Health, Health Policy
  • Chiara Bodini * Page 103

    In his recent article, titled “Ensuring Global Health Equity in a Post-pandemic Economy,” Ronald Labonté addresses a key challenge the world is facing, trying to ‘build back’ after the global crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He explores and critically examines different policy options, from a more inclusive ‘stakeholder model’ of capitalism, to a greater role of states in shaping markets and investing in the protection of health and the environment, to more radical options that propose to reframe the capitalist mantra of growth and look at different ways to value and center our societies around what really matters most to protect life. Social movements are key players in such transformation, however the political space they move in is progressively shrinking.

    Keywords: Post-Pandemic Economy, Degrowth, Social Movements, Democracy
  • Katherine M. Boydell * Page 104

    This commentary reviews the Scurr and colleagues’ article published in International Journal of Health Policy and Management in February 2022 on “Evaluating Public Participation in a Deliberative Dialogue: A Single Case Study.” Schur adds to the current knowledge base by extending the stakeholder groups in deliberative dialogues (DD) to members of the affected community, a practice not commonly used in such DD strategies. Their study supports the inclusion of public participants in such dialogues, and offers practical guidelines for ways in which to accommodate these important participants. This commentary highlights the need to acknowledge diverse types of knowing into what is considered evidence and advocates for evidence to include a wide-ranging variety of sources including tacit knowledge via experience and ongoing learning.

    Keywords: Deliberative Dialogue, Policy-Making, Public Participation, Knowledge Translation Strategy
  • Harsh Shah * Page 105

    India has put efforts into the prevention and control of tuberculosis (TB) for more than 50 years. Nikshay Poshan Yojna (NPY) is one of the schemes of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) by the Government of India. The CCT schemes mostly address the demand side constraints. Governments could use this in developing nations as a tool to divert financial resources toward societal development. In India, NPY is more directed toward providing monetary support for a nutritional diet and reducing the catastrophic expenditure of TB patients. Several studies highlighted challenges in implementing cash transfer schemes and provided different operational models. A country like India should address the challenges with defined strategies to ensure its last-mile reach. A present commentary discussing challenges and possible solutions that policy-makers can adapt and set up a support structure to ensure that supportive actions are implemented in response to patient and system side issues.

    Keywords: Tuberculosis, Nikshay Poshan Yojna, TB Control Program, Conditional Cash Transfer, Health System Strengthening, India
  • Veena Sriram *, Vikash R. Keshri Page 106

    In their paper, Tama and colleagues observe that one key challenge in a pilot, multi-component intervention to strengthen health facility regulation was the reaction from health facility owners and providers to regulatory processes. In this commentary, we propose that future research and action on health facility regulation in low- and middleincome countries (LMICs) contexts adopt an explicit focus on addressing the role of interests and interest groups in health systems ‘hardware’ and ‘software.’ Research on policy processes in LMICs consist of fewer investigations into the political economy of national or sub-national interest groups, such as physician associations or associations of health facility owners. A growing body of literature explores supply-side and demand-side interest groups, power relations within and between these stakeholders, and their advocacy approaches within LMIC health sector policy processes. We posit that such analyses will also help identify facilitators and challenges to implementation and scaleup of similar reforms to health facility regulation.

    Keywords: Interests, Interest Groups, Politics, Health Policy, Regulation
  • Alexandra Edelman *, Stephanie M. Topp Page 107

    In this commentary, we reflect on how the three processes of translating, contexting, and institutionalising knowledge translation (KT) practices, as introduced in a critical interpretive synthesis on sustaining KT, might be drawn on to improve KT sustainability in the northern Australian health system, and some likely challenges. The synthesis provides a useful reminder that health systems are social systems and offers an analytical framework against which to map approaches that aim to align knowledge production and utilisation. By positioning “places” of knowledge utilisation and actor roles and networks as key to KT sustainability, the framework also offers the potential to draw attention to non-clinical settings, actors, and relationships that are central to improving health, but that may be historically neglected in KT research and scholarship.

    Keywords: Knowledge Translation, Health System, Northern Australia, Rural, Remote
  • Zerubabbel K. Asfaw * Page 108

    The burden of trauma-related mortality is inversely related to income on an individual and national scale. Barthélemy et al highlight the significant variation of neurotrauma data included in national injury registries of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) when compared to the World Health Organization (WHO) minimal dataset for injury (MDI). Moreover, the authors emphasize that the non-existence and underutilization of nationally standardized trauma registries hinder the data-driven identification of factors contributing to neurotrauma and subsequent attempts to improve neurotrauma care. Establishing a nationally standardized trauma registry should be prioritized by all stakeholders involved in curbing trauma-related mortality and building research capacity in LMICs. In this commentary, previous successful efforts to establish and maintain robust registries in LMICs through local and international partnerships are highlighted. The lessons and challenges chronicled in establishing such registries can inform future efforts to implement a nationally standardized trauma registry.

    Keywords: Neurotrauma, Injury Data Set, Global Neurosurgery, Trauma Registry, Low-, Middle-Income Countries
  • Giovanni Abramo *, Ciriaco Andrea D’Angelo Page 109

    Following the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) strategic revision as a “research-based” institution, Brown et al have investigated the impact of THHS research, and its key drivers, based on 15 stakeholder interviews and two quantitative indicators. This commentary argues that the quantitative analyses and findings would have benefitted from applying evaluative bibliometrics, hopefully, conducted by experienced bibliometricians. We present the potential of bibliometrics for assessing the scholarly impact of research, as well as a few examples of its application to the case of THHS, for informing research policies and strategies.

    Keywords: Evaluative Bibliometrics, Research Evaluation, Research Impact, Research Management
  • Fiona Lecky * Page 110

    Since 1990 National Trauma Registries, — taking the form of “not for profit” small and medium enterprises — have been integral to improvementsin major injury case fatality in high-income settings. This is laudable but unsatisfactory as globally most years of life lost to injury occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). International Journal of Health Policy and Management, recently published a scoping review of neurotrauma registries in LMICs by Barthelemy et al; from this the commentary reflects on the state of the art and how these LMIC registries could be taken to “the next level” as meaningful tools for improving major injury patient care.

    Keywords: Registry, Neurotrauma, LMIC
  • Rakesh Parashar *, Veena Sriram, Sharmishtha Nanda, Frayashti Shekhawat Page 111

    To understand the role of power in health policy processes in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) contexts, it is necessary to engage with global and local power structures and their historical contexts. In this commentary, we outline three dimensions that shape a dominant power in health policy processes — the biomedical power. We propose that understanding the linkages between medical power and colonialism; the close connection of public health, medicine and elite networks; and the intersectionalities that shape the powers of medical professionals can offer the means to examine the biomedical hegemony in health policy processes. Additionally we suggest that a more nuanced understanding of the interaction of local powers with global funding can offer some entry points to achieving more equitable and interdisciplinary health policy processes in LMICs.

    Keywords: Power Analysis, Power in Health Policy, colonialism, Intersectionality, Health Policy Analysis, Biomedical Hegemony
  • Howard Waitzkin * Page 112

    This commentary expresses appreciation for Professor Labonté’s work, along with some hopefully constructive suggestions. Professor Labonté’s editorial shows ambivalence about reforms within capitalism. Such reforms remain contradictory and unlikely to prevail. Transformation to post-capitalist political economies is an exciting focus of moving beyond the hurtful effects of capitalism. Can “the state … mitigate capitalism’s inherent inegalitarianism”? Problematically, government resides in the capitalist state, whose main purpose is to protect the capitalist economic system. The state’s contradictory characteristics manifest in inadequate measures to protect health, as during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Social determination,” referring to illness-generating structures of power and finance, is replacing “social determinants,” referring mainly to demographic variables. Problems warranting attention include: capitalist industrial agriculture causing pandemics through destruction of protective natural habitat, structural racism, sexism and social reproduction, social class structure linked to inequality, and expropriation of nature to accumulate capital. Transformation to post-capitalism involves creative construction of new solidarity economies, while creative destructions block smooth functioning of the capitalist system.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, Capitalism, Capitalist State, Reform, Revolution
  • Justin Parkhurst * Page 113

    Powell and Mannion’s recent editorial discusses how different ‘models’ of the policy process have been applied within the health policy field. They present two ways forward for scholarship: more ‘home grown’ development of health-specific models, or deeper engagement with broader public policy scholarship. In this paper I argue for the latter approach for several reasons. First, health policy analysis is a social, not a natural science – and as such is not exceptional to other forms of policy scholarship. Second, many ‘health policy models’ are often grounded in conceptual work from elsewhere (or may not be health specific). Finally, there has been significant work to develop more nuanced understandings of theories, models, and frameworks available to particular analytical tasks and questions. As such, the growing body of global health policy scholarship may find it can benefit more from deeper engagement with existing conceptual work than constructing its own new models in most cases.

    Keywords: Health Policy, Public Policy, Health Policy Processes, Theories, Frameworks, Models
  • Jaime Jiménez-Pernett * Page 114

    In health policy-making, various deliberative mechanisms can be used to engage the members of the public in exploring what might be a reasonable course of action. Scurr et al take power dynamics into consideration to analyse a deliberative dialogue involving stakeholders with diverse points of view. Given such asymmetries at play, the conclusions of deliberations could be biased. Scholars would benefit from guidance on designing and evaluating deliberative processes. This commentary aims to broadly reflect on the possible sources of power and information asymmetries in deliberative dialogues, and to bring the biographical resources approach to deal with such asymmetries.

    Keywords: Public Engagement, Deliberative Methods, Inequalities, Equity, Measurement, Power Imbalances
  • Hayato Yamana, Seyune Lee, Yi-Chieh Lin, Nan-He Yoon, Kiyohide Fushimi, Hideo Yasunaga, Shou-Hsia Cheng, Hongsoo Kim * Page 115

      Although there have been studies that compared outcomes of patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) across countries, little focus has been placed on institutional variance of outcomes. The aim of the present study was to compare institutional variance in mortality following percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for AMI and factors explaining this variance across different health systems.


    Data on inpatients who underwent PCI for AMI in 2016 were obtained from the National Health Insurance Data Sharing Service in Korea, the Diagnosis Procedure Combination (DPC) Study Group Database in Japan, and the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) in Taiwan. Multilevel analyses with inpatient mortality as the outcome and the hierarchical structure of patients nested within hospitals were conducted, adjusting for common patient-level and hospital-level variables. We compared the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and the proportion of variance explained by hospital-level characteristics across the three health systems.


      There were 17 351 patients from 160 Korean hospitals, 29 804 patients from 660 Japanese hospitals, and 10 863 patients from 104 Taiwanese hospitals included in the analysis. Inpatient mortality rates were 6.3%, 7.3%, and 6.0% in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, respectively. After adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics, Taiwan had the lowest variation in mortality (ICC, 1.8%), followed by Korea (2.2%) and then Japan (4.5%). The measured hospital characteristics explained 38%, 19%, and 9% of the institutional variance in Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, respectively.


      Korea, Japan, and Taiwan had similarly uniform outcomes across hospitals for patients undergoing PCI for AMI. However, Japan had a relatively large institutional variance in mortality and a lower proportion of variation explainable by hospital characteristics, compared with Korea and Taiwan.

    Keywords: Acute myocardial infarction, Administrative Data, East Asia, Hospital Performance
  • Fran Baum *, Michael P. Mcgreevy, Colin M. Macdougall, Mark Henley Page 116

      This paper considers energy as a social and commercial determinant of health. Stable access to clean and sustainable energy is integral for human wellbeing yet public health rarely considers its importance. 


      Using NVivo qualitative analysis software we analysed all Australian federal, state and territory strategic energy policies covering varying periods between 2016-2030. We defined strategic policy as including the goals, objectives and strategies of the department regarding a specific area of policy responsibility. This criterion excluded documents such as operational guidelines. 36 energy-related policies were analyzed. 


      While the nature of energy supply is crucial to determining the impact of human and environmental health, our analysis showed that health and wellbeing are only rarely considered in policy. We developed a conceptual framework to guide our work linking energy policy with health. Australia’s continued reliance on fossil fuels evident in the policies poses health risks, especially as climate change threatens physical and mental health. Yet health considerations were mainly absent from the policies. However, some jurisdictions (South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory [ACT]) had policies encouraging a fast move to renewables. Energy pricing was a key focus in each jurisdiction and had become highly politicalized in the past decade. Little attention was paid to equity considerations in the policies. 


      Energy policy would be more health promoting if public health perspectives were considered during its development. On the basis of our policy analysis and literature review we conclude with recommendations for healthy energy policy.

    Keywords: Energy Policy, Health, Climate Change, Equity, Australia, Commercial Determinants
  • Federica Guaraldi, Marco Montalti, Davide Gori * Page 117

    Vaccine hesitancy (VH) has risen significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming a major global health concern. VH is characterized by the delay or refusal of vaccination despite its availability. Various frameworks have been developed to understand the complex factors influencing VH, with attitudes, beliefs, and external influences being the most significant. The surge in VH has reignited the debate on the best approach to address it: persuasive/educational or coercive. Attwell and Hannah studied the political and social reasons behind the adoption of mandatory vaccination in four jurisdictions (Italy, France, Australia, and California) due to declining vaccine coverage below the safety threshold. However, these methods may foster parental disbeliefs and opposition to vaccination campaigns. To combat VH, it is crucial to systematically assess its determinants within specific contexts and population groups. Increasing awareness about vaccination benefits, engaging with social media, and employing tailored strategies can foster spontaneous adherence to vaccination programs, eliminating the need for coercive measures.

    Keywords: Vaccine Hesitancy, Compulsory Vaccination, Childhood Vaccinations
  • Daniëlle Kroon *, Niek W. Stadhouders, Simone A. Van Dulmen, Rudolf B. Kool, Patrick P.T. Jeurissen Page 118
  • Dennis Waithaka *, Lucy Gilson, Edwine Barasa, Benjamin Tsofa, Marsha Orgill Page 119

      Performance-based financing (PBF) was introduced to Kilifi county in Kenya in 2015. This study investigates how and why political and bureaucratic actors at the local level in Kilifi county influenced the extent to which PBF was politically prioritised at the sub-national level.


      The study employed a single-case study design. The Shiffman and Smith political priority setting framework with adaptations proposed by Walt and Gilson was applied. Data was collected through document review (n = 19) and in-depth interviews (n = 8). Framework analysis was used to analyse data and generate findings.


      In the period 2015-2018, the political prioritisation of PBF at the county level in Kilifi was influenced by contextual features including the devolution of power to sub-national actors and rigid public financial management (PFM) structures. It was further influenced by interpretations of the idea of ‘pay-for-performance,’ its framing as ‘additional funding,’ as well as contestation between actors at the sub national level about key PBF design features. Ultimately PBF ceased at the end of 2018 after donor funding stopped.


      Health reformers must be cognisant of the power and interests of national and sub national actors in all phases of the policy process, including both bureaucratic and political actors in health and non-health sectors. This is particularly important in devolved public governance contexts where reforms require sustained attention and budgetary commitment at the sub national level. There is also need for early involvement of critical actors to develop shared understandings of the ideas on which interventions are premised, as well as problems and solutions.

    Keywords: Performance-Based Financing, Politics, Political Prioritization, Power, Sub-National, Kenya
  • Garrett Wallace Brown *, Natalie Rhodes Page 120

    This article agrees with Lassa et al that biomedical paradigms and medical professionals are a dominating force within the policy dynamics of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and that there needs to be greater community involvement in how global health initiatives (GHIs) are adopted, designed, implemented and evaluated. However, we argue that many of the conditions identified are entrenched and perpetuated by how GHIs are financed and the financing modalities employed in Development Aid for Health (DAH), particularly in low resource settings. As a result, the dynamics of power not only flow from traditionally entrenched epistemic authorities but are disproportionally sustained by global health financing modalities that favour particular GHIs over others. As we argue, these DAH modalities can exert forms of power with problematic effects on policy-making.

    Keywords: Power, Global Health Financing, Development Aid, Finance Colonialization, Epistemic Power
  • Jennifer Lacy-Nichols *, Owain Williams Page 121
  • Thit Thit Aye *, Hoa Thi Nguyen, Stephan Brenner, Paul Robyn, Ludovic Tapsoba, Julia Lohmann, Manuela De Allegri Page 123

      Burkina Faso has been implementing financing reforms towards universal health coverage (UHC) since 2006. Recently, the country introduced a performance-based financing (PBF) program as well as user fee removal (gratuité) policy for health services aimed at pregnant and lactating women and children under 5. We aim to assess the effect of gratuité and PBF policies on facility-based out-of-pocket expenditures (OOPEs) for outpatient services.


      Our study is a controlled pre- and post-test design using healthcare facility data from the PBF program’s impact evaluation collected in 2014 and 2017. We compared OOPE related to primary healthcare use incurred by children under 5 and individuals above 5 to assess the effect of the gratuité policy on OOPE. We further compared OOPE incurred by individuals residing in PBF districts and non-PBF districts to estimate the effect of the PBF on OOPE. Effects were estimated using difference-in-differences models, distinguishing the estimation of the probability of incurring OOPE from the estimation of the magnitude of OOPE using a generalized linear model (GLM).


      The proportion of children under 5 incurring OOPE declined significantly from 90% in 2014 to 3% in 2017. Concurrently, mean OOPE also decreased. Differences in both the probability of incurring OOPE and mean OOPE between PBF and non-PBF facilities were small. Our difference in differences estimates indicated that gratuité produced an 84% (CI -86%, -81%) reduction in the probability of incurring OOPE and reduced total OOPE by 54% (CI 63%, 42%). We detected no significant effects of PBF, either in reducing the probability of incurring OOPE or in its magnitude.


      User fee removal is an effective demand-side intervention for enhancing financial accessibility. As a supplyside intervention, PBF appears to have limited effects on reducing financial burden.

    Keywords: Health Financing, Out-of-Pocket Expenditures, User Fee Removal, Performance-Based Financing, Burkina Faso, Universal Health Coverage
  • Yunling Wang, Weijia Tan, Yifang Wang * Page 124
  • Vanessa Tomas, Brittany Finlay *, Stephen Gentles, Madison Campbell, Daljit Gill-Badesha, Carolyn Abel, Jennifer D. Zwicker, Jonathan Lai Page 125
  • Norah Campbell *, Sarah Browne, Marius Claudy, Kathryn Reilly, Francis M. Finucane Page 126
  • Nicole M. Glenn, Aryati Yashadhana, Karla Jaques, Ana Belon, Evelyne De Leeuw, Candace I. J. Nykiforuk, Patrick Harris * Page 127

      Rapid, strategic action is required to mitigate the negative and unequal impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the financial well-being (FWB) of global populations. Personal financial strain (FS) worsened most significantly among systematically excluded groups. Targeted government- and community-led initiatives are needed to address these inequities. The purpose of this applied research was to identify what works for whom, under what conditions, and why in relation to community and government initiatives that promote personal and household FWB and/or address FS in high income economies. 


      We employed a critical realist analysis to literature that reported on FWB/FS initiatives in high income countries. This included initiatives introduced in response to the pandemic as well as those that began prior to the pandemic. We included sources based on a rapid review. We coded academic, published literature (n = 39) and practicebased (n = 36) reports abductively to uncover generative mechanisms – ie, underlying, foundational factors related to community or government initiatives that either constrained and/or enabled FWB and FS. 


      We identified two generative mechanisms: (1) neoliberal ideology; and (2) social equity ideology. A third mechanism, social location (eg, characteristics of identity, location of residence), cut across the two ideologies and demonstrated for whom the initiatives worked (or did not) in what circumstances. Neoliberal ideology (ie, individual responsibility) dominated initiative designs, which limited the positive impact on FS. This was particularly true for people who occupied systematically excluded social locations (eg, low-income young mothers). Social equity-based initiatives were less common within the literature, yet mostly had a positive impact on FWB and produced equitable outcomes. 


      Equity-centric initiatives are required to improve FWB and reduce FS among systemically excluded and marginalized groups. These findings are of relevance now as nations strive for financial recovery in the face of the ongoing global pandemic.

    Keywords: Critical Realism, Financial Well-Being, Financial Strain, COVID-19, Inequities, Public Health
  • Sultana Al Sabahi * Page 128
  • Jochen O. Mierau, Brigit C.A. Toebes * Page 129
  • Cassandra De Lacy-Vawdon *, Brian Vandenberg, Charles Livingstone Page 130

      Commercial determinants of health (CDoH) represent a critical frame for exploring undue corporate and commercial influence over health. Power lenses are integral to understanding CDoH. Impacts of food, alcohol, and gambling industries are observable CDoH outcomes. This study aims to inform understanding of the systems and institutions of commercial and/or corporate forces working within the Australian food, alcohol, and gambling industries that influence health and well-being, including broader discourses materialised via these systems and institutions.


      Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted with key-informants on Australian public policy processes. Interviewees were current and former politicians, political staff members, regulators and other public servants, industry representatives, lobbyists, journalists, and researchers with expertise and experience of the Australian food, alcohol, and/or gambling industries. Interviews sought participants’ perceptions of Australian food, alcohol, and gambling industries’ similarities and differences, power and influence, relationships, and intervention opportunities and needs.


      Strategies and tactics used by Australian food, alcohol and gambling industries are similar, and similar to those of the tobacco industry. They wield considerable soft (eg, persuasive, preference-shaping) and hard (eg, coercive, political, and legal/economic) power. Perceptions of this power differed considerably according to participants’ backgrounds. Participants framed their understanding of necessary interventions using orthodox neoliberal discourses, including limiting the role of government, emphasising education, consumer freedom, and personal choice.


      Food, alcohol, and gambling industries exercise powerful influences in Australian public policy processes, affecting population health and well-being. Per Wood and colleagues’ framework, these manifest corporate, social, and ecological outcomes, and represent considerable instrumental, structural, and discursive power. We identify power as arising from discourse and material resources alike, along with relationships and complex industry networks. Addressing power is essential for reducing CDoH harms. Disrupting orthodox discourses and ideologies underpinning this should be a core focus of public health (PH) advocates and researchers alike.

    Keywords: Commercial Determinants of Health, Health Policy, Politics, Power, Industry Influence, Australia
  • Zhiqing Zhan, Jie Li, Zhangkai J. Cheng * Page 131
  • Janet Squires *, Wilmer J. Santos, Ian D. Graham, Jamie Brehaut, Janet A. Curran, Jill J. Francis, Jeremy M. Grimshaw, Michael Hillmer, Noah Ivers, John Lavis, Susan Michie, Thomas Noseworthy, Alison M. Hutchinson Page 132
  • Joshua Porat-Dahlerbruch *, Lusine Poghosyan, Moriah Ellen Page 133
  • Marco Zenone *, Nora Kenworthy, Nason Maani Page 134
  • Matthew Fisher *, Patrick Harris, Toby Freeman, Emma George, Fran Baum Page 135
  • Simone A. Van Dulmen *, Eva W. Verkerk, Karen Born, Reshma Gupta, Gert Westert, Rudolf B. Kool Page 136
  • Ruth Waitzberg *, Wilm Quentin, Reinhard Busse, Dan Greenberg Page 137
  • Vahid Yazdi-Feyzabadi, Esmaeil Khedmati Morasae, Sajad Delavari * Page 138
  • Leigh Sparks * Page 140

    The paper by Forde et al provides a useful qualitative consideration of marketing responses to the implementation of the 2018 Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) in the United Kingdom. This commentary discusses that paper and its conclusions and seeks to place them in a broader context for marketing, fiscal measures and health and public policy. It suggests that modern conceptualisations of marketing and wider considerations of market and non-market strategies could provide a valuable lens to understand the ways in which companies and sectors respond to the threats they perceive and the constantly changing sectoral opportunities. It is important that fiscal measures introduced have the desired effects, and that not only positive behaviours (whether of companies or consumers) are incentivised, but that adverse behaviours are actively disincentivised.

    Keywords: Soft Drinks, Taxation, United Kingdom, Public Policy, Marketing, Public Health
  • Peter Hangoma *, Mwimba Chewe Page 141

    Taxes on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) have been widely implemented and heralded as a panacea in reversing the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Using a qualitative research methodology, Forde et al explored how sugary drink companies respond to changes in taxation positing that relative effectiveness of sugar taxes will not only depend on how prices are affected, and how consumers respond, but also how producers respond by reformulating their products or engaging in counteractive marketing strategies. They argue that these responses may undermine the public health goal. We discuss some of the key issues that arise in their paper and conclude that company responses may not be sufficient in undermining the public health goal, and that consumption of sugary drinks fall after imposition of taxes, though demand is inelastic. We argue that inelasticity of demand for SSB may require a combination of interventions to sufficiently reduce excess consumption of sugar drinks.

    Keywords: Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax, Non-Communicable Diseases, Economics of Taxation
  • Yanan Luo, Zhenyu Shi, Dan Guo, Ping He * Page 142

      This study took Beijing as an example to estimate the incidence and regional inequalities of catastrophic health expenditures (CHEs) in a megacity of China.


      This study used data from the Health Services Survey Beijing (HSSB) 2018. Logistic regressions were used to investigate the risk factors for experiencing CHE, and concentration curves, the concentration index and its decomposition method based on probit models were used to estimate the inequalities in CHE.


      CHE occurred in 25.51% of the households of the outer suburb villages, 6.78% of the households of the innercity area communities, 17.10% of the households of the villages of the inner-city areas, and 11.91% of the households of the communities of the outer suburbs. In areas in the outer suburbs, households with private insurance coverage were associated with a lowered risk of CHE, and lower educational attainment and lower occupational class were related to an increasing risk of CHE. This study also discovered pro-rich financing disparities in CHE in Beijing, with the outer suburbs having the highest levels of CHE disparity. When it comes to the observed contributions of disparities in CHE, a significant portion of them is connected to the sorts of occupations, educational levels, and residential status.


      The impoverishment brought on by medical expenses and CHE must still be taken into account in the postpoverty elimination era. The megacity of China was discovered to have significant regional differences in the incidence of pro-rich financing inequity in CHE. Disparities in socioeconomic status (SES), one of the controllable variables, may be a key area to address to lower the risk and minimize CHE inequality in megacities towards the path to universal health coverage (UHC). Additionally, it is important to consider the financial protection impact of inclusive supplementary medical insurance on lowering the likelihood of CHE in the periphery areas.

    Keywords: Universal Health Coverage, Regional Inequalities, Catastrophic Health Expenditure
  • Bahar Kasaai, Erin Thompson, Richard Glazier, Meghan Mcmahon * Page 143

      This descriptive study reports the early career outcomes of postdoctoral fellows who completed a novel embedded fellowship training program, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Health System Impact (HSI) Fellowship. The program was designed to support impact-oriented career paths of doctoral graduates, build research capacity within health system organizations (HSOs), and help to advance learning health systems (LHSs) in Canada.


      Employment of fellowship alumni upon completion of the program was tracked using internet searches of publicly accessible online sources and complemented with program survey data.


      Descriptive analyses show that all 87 eligible alumni included in the study are currently employed (100% of 87), with 92% employed in Canada. Their employment spans several sectors, including in academic (37%), public (29%), healthcare delivery (17%), and private (14%) sectors. Altogether, 32% of alumni hold hybrid roles with an affiliation in academia and another sector. The most common position types are senior scientist (42%), professorships (18%), and director, manager or administrator roles (12%). Program reporting data indicate that these employment outcomes are generally consistent with the group’s career aspirations reported at the start of the fellowship program, and that the program receives high ratings from fellows in the extent it is believed to support their career preparedness and readiness (4.49 out of 5).


      This study finds that HSI Fellow alumni are employed mostly in research-related roles in a range of sectors including, but not limited to, academia, and that they positively perceive the program’s success in elevating their career readiness and potential to make an impact – suggesting that the program may help equip fellows with the skills, readiness and networks for contribution in a broad array of employment sectors and roles. The findings are a promising signal of the demand for research talent and the growing capacity for LHSs in Canada.

    Keywords: Health Services, Policy Research, Health Workforce, Career Development, Learning Healthcare System
  • Xiaoyan Nie *, Ruilin Wang, Guangkai Liang, Xinyi Zhang, Ningjia Tang, Yuchun Cai, Congxiao Han, Yuxuan Zhao, Tong Jia, Fang Zhang, Sheng Han, Xiaodong Guan, Luwen Shi, Christine Lu Page 144

    A prescribing monitoring policy (PMP) was implemented in November 2015 in Anhui province, China, the first province to pilot this policy to manage the use and costs of select drugs based on their large prescription volumes and/or costs in hospitals. This study evaluated the impact of PMP on the use and expenditures of different drugs in three tertiaryhospitals in Anhui.


      We obtained monthly drug use and expenditures data from three tertiary hospitals in Anhui (November 2014 through September 2017). An interrupted time series (ITS) design was used to estimate changes in defined daily doses (DDDs per month) and drug expenditures (dollars per month) of policy-targeted and non-targeted drugs after PMP implementation. Drugs were grouped based on whether they were recommended (recommended drugs) by any clinical guidelines or not (non-recommended drugs), or if they were potentially over-used (proton pump inhibitors, PPIs).


      After PMP, DDDs and costs of the targeted PPIs (omeprazole) declined while use of non-targeted PPIs increased correspondingly with overall sustained declines in total PPIs. The policy impact on recommended drugs varied based on whether the targeted drugs have appropriate alternatives. The DDDs and costs of recommended drugs that have readily accessible appropriate alternatives (atorvastatin) declined, which offset increases in its alternative non-target drugs (rosuvastatin), while there was no significant change in those recommended drugs that did not have appropriate alternative drugs (clopidogrel and ticagrelor). Finally, the DDDs and costs of non-recommended drugs decreased significantly.


      PMP policy impact was not the same across different drug groups. PMP did help contain the use and costs of potentially over-used drugs and non-recommended drugs. PMP did not seem to reduce the use of first-line therapeutic drugs recommended by clinical treatment guidelines, especially those lacking alternatives; such drugs are unlikely appropriate candidates for PMP.

    Keywords: Prescribing Monitoring Policy, Over-used drugs, Policy Evaluation, Interrupted Time Series, China
  • Siân Williams *, Genevie Fernandes Page 145

    While research is linked with informed decision-making and improved healthcare delivery and patient outcomes, the process of generating and translating research evidence in practice and capturing its impact can often be challenging. Based on document and database reviews and interviews in a regional Australian health system, Brown et al discuss the challenges of assessing the impact of research investments over a ten-year period. This commentary explores three inter-related lessons from this article for developing and sustaining a research culture and supporting translation in a health system: (i) achieving a shared definition and expectation of research; (ii) the importance of stakeholder engagement particularly for research prioritisation; and (iii) enabling research across a system. In doing so, it highlights the role and value of engaging knowledge generators and end-users from clinical, management and community domains not only in research development but most importantly in research prioritisation.

    Keywords: Healthcare Research, Impact Evaluation, Stakeholder Engagement, Australia, Research Prioritisation, Health Systems Evidence
  • Shazra Abbas *, Michelle Kermode, Mohammad Dost Khan, Justin Denholm, Hamed Adetunji, Sumit Kane Page 146

      Non-adherence to treatment is a frequently observed phenomenon amongst those on long-term treatment for chronic illnesses. This qualitative study draws upon the tenets of ‘practice theory’ to reveal what shapes patients’ ability to adhere to the demanding treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) at three treatment sites in KhyberPakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan.


      This qualitative study involved observation of service provision over a period of nine months of stay at, and embedment within the three treatment sites and in-depth interviews with 13 service providers and 22 patients who became non-adherent to their treatment.


      Consistent with the extensive research based on the barriers and facilitator approach, both patients, and providers in our study also talked of patients’ doubts about diagnosis and treatment efficacy, side-effects of drugs, economic constraints, unreliable disbursements of monetary incentive, attitude of providers and co-morbidities as reasons for nonadherence to treatment. Applying a practice theory perspective yielded more contextualised insights; inadequate help with patients’ physical complaints, unempathetic responses to their queries, and failure to provide essential information, created conditions which hindered the establishment and maintenance of the ‘practice’ of adhering to treatment. These supply-side gaps created confusion, bred resentment, and exacerbated pre-existing distrust of public health services among patients, and ultimately drove them to disengage with the TB services and stop their treatment.


      We argue that the lack of supply-side ‘responsiveness’ to patient needs beyond the provision of a few material inputs is what is lacking in the existing DR-TB program in Pakistan. We conclude that unless Pakistan’s TB program explicitly engages with these supply side, system level gaps, patients will continue to struggle to adhere to their treatments and the TB program will continue to lose patients. Conceptually, we make a case for reimagining the act of adherence (or not) to long-term treatment as a ‘Practice.’

    Keywords: Health Systems, Patient-Provider Relationship, Respectful Healthcare, Pakistan, Health Systems Responsiveness, Practice Theory
  • Leon Schuetze *, Siddharth Srivastava, Naasegnibe Kuunibe, Elizeus Rwezaula, Abdallah Missenye, Manfred Stoermer, Manuela De Allegri Page 147

      Digital information management systems for health financing are implemented on the assumption that digitalization, among other things, enables strategic purchasing. However, little is known about the extent to which these systems are adopted as planned to achieve desired results. This study assesses the levels of, and the factors associated with the adoption of the Insurance Management Information System (IMIS) by healthcare providers in Tanzania.


      Combining multiple data sources, we estimated IMIS adoption levels for 365 first-line health facilities in 2017 by comparing IMIS claim data (verified claims) with the number of expected claims. We defined adoption as a binary outcome capturing underreporting (verified<expected) vs. not-underreporting, using four different approaches. We used descriptive statistics and analysis of variance (ANOVA) to examine adoption levels across facilities, districts, regions, and months. We used logistic regression to identify facility-specific factors (ie, explanatory variables) associated with different adoption levels.


      We found a median (interquartile range [IQR]) difference of 77.8% (32.7-100) between expected and verified claims, showing a consistent pattern of underreporting across districts, regions, and months. Levels of underreporting varied across regions (ANOVA: F = 7.24, P < .001) and districts (ANOVA: F = 4.65, P < .001). Logistic regression results showed that higher service volume, share of people insured, and greater distance to district headquarter were associated with a higher probability of underreporting.


      Our study shows that the adoption of IMIS in Tanzania may be sub-optimal and far from policy-makers’ expectations, limiting its capacity to provide the necessary information to enhance strategic purchasing in the health sector. Countries and agencies adopting digital interventions such as openIMIS to foster health financing reform are advised to closely track their implementation efforts to make sure the data they rely on is accurate. Further, our study suggests organizational and infrastructural barriers beyond the software itself hamper effective adoption.

    Keywords: Health Financing, Health Insurance, Strategic Purchasing, Tanzania, Digital Health Intervention, Adoption
  • Keiko Shikako *, Raphael Lencucha, Matthew Hunt, Sébastien Jodoin, Mayada Elsabbagh, Anne Hudon, Derrick Cogburn, Ananya Chandra, Anna Gignac-Eddy, Nilani Ananthamoorthy, Rachel Martens Page 148

      People with disabilities have experienced heightened social risks in the context of the pandemic, resulting in higher rates of infection and mortality. They have also borne elevated burdens associated with public health measures. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) obliges its 184 state parties to eliminate discrimination and ensure equality and inclusion for persons with disabilities, including protection and safety in situations of emergency. It remains unclear to what extent national COVID-19 policies have aligned with these commitments under the UNCRPD. Our objective in this exploratory study was to assess alignment between the UNCRPD indicators and COVID-19 policies from 14 countries with the goal of informing policy development that is inclusive of persons with disabilities and responsive to rights under the UNCRPD.


      We identified COVID-19 policy documents from 14 purposively selected countries. Country selection considered diversity based on geographic regions and national income levels, with restriction to those countries that had ratified the UNCRPD and had English or French as an official language. We used a computational text mining approach and developed a complex multilevel dictionary or categorization model based on the UNCRPD Bridging the Gap indicators proposed by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR). This dictionary was used to assess the extent to which indicators across the entirety of the UNCRPD were represented in the selected policies. We analyzed frequency of associations with UNCRPD, as well as conducting ‘key word in context’ analyses to identify themes.


      We identified 764 COVID-19 national policy documents from the period of January 2020 to June 2021. When analyzed in relation to the Articles of the UNCRPD, the most frequently identified were Articles 11 (risk and humanitarian emergencies), 23 (home and family), 24 (education), and 19 (community living). Six countries produced 27 policies that were specifically focused on disability. Common themes within these documents included continuation of services, intersectionality and equity, and disability considerations in regulations and public health measures.


      Analyzing country policies in light of the UNCRPD offers important insights about how these policies do and do not align with states’ commitments. As new policies are developed and existing ones revised, more comprehensive approaches to addressing the rights of persons with disabilities are urgently needed.

    Keywords: Disability, Human Rights, COVID-19, Policy
  • Karl Blanchet *, Vincent-Paul Sanon, Sophie Sarrassat, Arsène Satouro Somé Page 149

      In 2014, Terre des Hommes (Tdh) together with the Ministry of Health (MoH) launched the Integrated electronic Diagnosis Approach (IeDA) intervention in two regions of Burkina Faso consisting of supplying every health centre with a digital algorithm. A realistic evaluation was conducted to understand the implementation process, the mechanisms by which the IeDA intervention lead to change.


      Data collection took place between January 2016 and October 2017. Direct observation in health centres were conducted. In-depth interviews were conducted with 154 individuals including 92 healthcare workers (HCW) from health centres, 16 officers from district health authorities, 6 members of health centre management committees. In addition, 5 focus groups were organised with carers. The initial coding was based on a preliminary list of codes inspired by the middle-range theory (MRT).


    Our results showed that the adoption of the electronic protocol depended on a multiplicity of management practices including role distribution, team work, problem solving approach, task monitoring, training, supervision, support and recognition. Such changes lead to reorganising the health team and redistributing roles before and during consultation, and positive atmosphere that included recognition of each team member, organisational commitment and sense of belonging. Conditions for such management changes to be effective included open dialog at all levels of the system, a minimum of resources to cover the support services and supervision and regular discussions focusing on solving problems faced by health centre teams.


      This project reinforces the point that in a successful diffusion of IeDA, it is necessary to combine the introduction of technology with support and management mechanisms. It also important to highlight that managers’ attitude plays a great place in the success of the intervention: open dialog and respect are crucial dimensions. This is aligned with the findings from other studies.

    Keywords: Digital Health, Mobile Health, Electronic Clinical Tool
  • Kellia Chiu, Anne Marie Thow, Lisa Bero * Page 150

      There has been increasing concern over opioid-related harms across the world. In Australia in 2018, codeine-containing products were up-scheduled from over-the-counter access at pharmacies, to requiring a prescription. The drug regulator’s decision to up-schedule was contentious and widely debated, due to the potentially large impact on consumers and healthcare professionals. This study aimed to analyse influences on the codeine up-scheduling policy. 


      This retrospective policy analysis used the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) to understand how policy actors with shared beliefs formed adversarial coalitions to shape policy. Data were drawn from documents (regulator policy documents, public submissions, news reports, organisational media releases and position statements) and semistructured interviews with 15 key policy actors. Codes were generated relating to policy processes and actor beliefs; broad themes included the role of health professionals, perceptions of opioids, impact on consumers, and the role of government in healthcare. 


      Two coalitions in this policy subsystem were identified: (1) supportive [with respect to the up-scheduling], and (2) opposing. The key evident beliefs of the supportive coalition were that the harms of codeine outweighed the benefits, and that government regulation was the best pathway for protecting consumers. The opposing coalition believed that the benefits of codeine accessible through pharmacists outweighed any harms, and consumers should manage their health without any more intervention than necessary. The policy decision reflected the influence of the supportive coalition, and this analysis highlighted the importance of their public health framing of the issue, the acceptability of their experts and supporting evidence, and the perceived legitimacy of the up-scheduling process. 


      Understanding these coalitions, their beliefs, and how they are translated through existing policy processes and institutions provides insight for those interested in influencing future health policy. Specific lessons include the importance of strategic frames and advocacy, and engagement with formal policy processes.

    Keywords: Codeine, Opioids, Scheduling, Drug Policy, Advocacy Coalition Framework, Australia
  • Stephen Peckham * Page 151

    There is clearly a need to improve the use of more robust policy theory on health policy analysis. Powell and Mannion in an editorial on the relationship between health policy analysis and the wider field of public policy theory note, as others have done before, the limited application of policy theory in health policy analysis. However, they also highlight that within the health policy analysis arena new models have emerged which have wider use within policy analysis such as the health policy triangle. While Powell and Mannion suggest that health policy analysis can take one of two paths I argue that we should be developing more integrated frameworks of health policy processes, governance and systems which would involve the use of robust public policy theories and models.

    Keywords: Health Policy Analysis, Policy Theory, Policy Models
  • Rod Sheaff * Page 152

    Models of the health policy process have largely developed in isolation from political studies more widely. Of the models which Powell and Mannion’s editorial considers, a stages model of the policy process offers a framework for combining these specifically health-focused models with empirical findings and more general explanatory models of the policy process drawn from other political studies. This commentary uses a stages model to assemble a bricolage which combines some of these components. That identifies a further research task and suggests ways of revealing in more life-like ways the politics involved in the health policy process: that is, how that process channels wider, often conflicting, non-health interests, actors, policies, conflicts, ideologies and sources of power from outside the health system into health policy formation, and introduces non-rationality.

    Keywords: Policy Process, Policy Cycle, Policy Formation, Rationality, Politics of Health, Stages Model
  • Sheryl Spithoff *, Quinn Grundy Page 153

      Commercial data brokers have amassed large collections of primary care patient data in proprietary databases. Our study objective was to critically analyze how entities involved in the collection and use of these records construct the value of these proprietary databases. We also discuss the implications of the collection and use of these databases.


      We conducted a critical qualitative content analysis using publicly available documents describing the creation and use of proprietary databases containing Canadian primary care patient data. We identified relevant commercial data brokers, as well as entities involved in collecting data or in using data from these databases. We sampled documents associated with these entities that described any aspect of the collection, processing, and use of the proprietary databases. We extracted data from each document using a structured data tool. We conducted an interpretive thematic content analysis by inductively coding documents and the extracted data.


      We analyzed 25 documents produced between 2013 and 2021. These documents were largely directed at the pharmaceutical industry, as well as shareholders, academics, and governments. The documents constructed the value of the proprietary databases by describing extensive, intimate, detailed patient-level data holdings. They provided examples of how the databases could be used by pharmaceutical companies for regulatory approval, marketing and understanding physician behaviour. The documents constructed the value of these data more broadly by claiming to improve health for patients, while also addressing risks to privacy. Some documents referred to the trade-offs between patient privacy and data utility, which suggests these considerations may be in tension.


      Documents in our analysis positioned the proprietary databases as socially legitimate and valuable, particularly to pharmaceutical companies. The databases, however, may pose risks to patient privacy and contribute to problematic drug promotion. Solutions include expanding public data repositories with appropriate governance and external regulatory oversight.

    Keywords: Health data, Commercialization, Privacy, Pharmaceutical Industry, Primary Care, Canada
  • Kathryn Oliver * Page 154

    Despite a growth in knowledge translation (KT) or exchange activities, and a smaller growth in their evaluations, it remains challenging to identify evidence of efficacy. This could be due to well-documented political and logistical difficulties involved in evaluating knowledge exchange interventions. By bringing in theory from science and technology studies (STS), Borst et al1 offer a new way of thinking about this problem. Most KT evaluations draw on health research traditions; centralising comparability, efficacy, and so on. Borst et al propose focusing on the work it takes to move knowledge over boundaries between these communities, seeing relationships as interactions, not just conduits for evidence. They show how ‘context’ can be understood as a mutual creation, not a static environment; and that institutions shape behaviours, rather than merely being sites or platforms for evidence mobilisation. Seeing KT as a creative, active practice opens new ways to design and evaluate KT mechanisms.

    Keywords: Evaluation, Interdisciplinarity, Boundaries, Knowledge Exchange
  • Serena Masino *, Luisa Enria Page 155

      Italy was among the first countries in the world to experience the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 emergency and suffered its consequences to a devastating scale. Understanding how the country got there in spite of a relatively well-resourced public and private health system in at least part of the country, is imperative to be able to operationalise any lessons learnt for future epidemics in Italy and beyond.


      The paper reports the findings from a research scoping exercise conducted in Italy in 2020. We conducted extensive archival research and collected 29 testimonies either in writing or as semi-structured interviews. We sampled purposively with a stratification strategy in mind, specifically aiming to gain testimonies from different social groups,classes, ages, and nature of employment. Our sample also reflects the different experiences between the Northern and Southern regions, a divide that has long been economically and politically salient in the country.


      Evidence and considerations of epidemiological nature normally guide public health responses to crises. This study supports the idea that socio-economic, cultural and political factors also affect transmission outcomes. We highlight specifically the role that socio-economic and health inequalities play in this respect, through factors such as overcrowded dwellings, lack of alternatives to in-person work, informal work set-ups, pervasive organised crime presence, poorly planned social support and communication strategies.


      A socio-economic and political lens is needed in addition to an epidemiological one to fully understand the social experiences and implications of public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and to devise effective response measures that are locally relevant and acceptable. Thus insights provided by multi-disciplinary task forces can render policy-making and social support interventions as well as communication strategies more effective.

    Keywords: COVID-19, Inequality, Public Health, Italy, socio-economic impact, Social Sciences
  • Rik Wehrens *, Lieke Oldenhof, Marjolijn Heerings, Violet Petit-Steeghs, Sander Van Haperen, Roland Bal, Trisha Greenhalgh Page 156

    Holmström and co-authors argue for the value of integrating system dynamics into action research to deal with increasing complexity in healthcare. We argue that despite merits, the authors overlook the key aspect of normative complexity, which refers to the existence of multiple, often conflicting values that actors in healthcare systems have to pragmatically develop responses to in their daily practices. We argue that a better theoretical and empirical understanding of the multiplicity of values and how actors deal with value conflicts in daily practices can enrich discussions about complexity in healthcare. We introduce the alternative methodology of ‘value exnovation’ for action researchers to broaden the scope of system-based thinking and action research in healthcare.

    Keywords: Complexity, Action Research, System Dynamics, Mixed Methods, Pragmatism, Values
  • Julia Kontak *, Amy Grant, Elizabeth Jeffers, Leah Boulos, Juanna Ricketts, Michael Davies, Marina Hamilton, Jill A. Hayden Page 157

      There is evidence of the benefits of integrated knowledge translation (IKT), yet there is limited research outlining the purpose of a knowledge broker (KB) within this approach. The Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) acts as a KB to support patient-oriented research across the Maritime provinces in Canada. The “Bridge Process” was developed by the Nova Scotia (NS) site as a strategy that involves work leading up to and following the Bridge Event. The process supports research addressing priority health topics discussed at the event by stakeholder groups. The objectives of this paper were to (1) describe the outputs/outcomes of this IKT approach; and (2) examine the role of the KB.


      Quantitative data were collected from registration and evaluation surveys. Outputs are described with descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were collected through evaluation surveys and internal documents. Data related to KB tasks were categorized into three domains: (1) Knowledge Manager, (2) Linkage and Exchange Agent and (3) Capacity Developer.


      The Bridge Process was implemented four times. A total of 314 participants including government, health, patient/citizen, community, and research personnel attended the events. We identified 24 priority topics, with 7 led by teams receiving support to complete related projects. Participants reported improved understanding of the research gaps and policy needs and engaged with individuals they would not have otherwise. Although patients/citizens attended each Bridge Event, only 61% of participants who completed an evaluation survey indicated that they were ‘actively engaged in group discussion.’ The KB’s role was identified in all three domains including Knowledge Manager (eg, defining questions), Linkage and Exchange Agent (eg, engaging stakeholders), and Capacity Builder (eg, research interpretation).


      The MSSU facilitated an IKT approach by acting as a KB throughout the Bridge Process. This deliberative and sequential process served as an effective strategy to increase collaborative health research in the province.

    Keywords: Integrated Knowledge Translation, Research Partnerships, Knowledge Broker, Priority Setting, Canada, Nova Scotia
  • Stephanie Topp * Page 158

    The onset and impacts of COVID-19 have prompted attention to national health system preparedness for, and capacity to adapt in response to, public health emergencies and other shocks. This preparedness and adaptive capacity are often framed as ‘health system resilience’ a concept previously associated more with assessments of health systems in conflict-affected and fragile states. Yet health system resilience remains a slippery concept, defined and applied in multiple ways. Reflecting on the Hodgins and colleagues’ study “the COVID-19 system shock framework: capturing health system innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic,” this article restates the limitations of health systems resilience as a concept capable of anchoring evaluative assessments of health system performance but stresses its value in the context of explanatory research investigating how and why health systems adapt, with due attention to the power of actors’ whose choices inform the nature and direction of change.

    Keywords: Health Systems, Resilience, Power, Explanatory Research, Evaluative Research, Systems-Thinking
  • Stephen R. Hanney * Page 159

    The COVID-19 pandemic intensified debates about the desirability of integrating health research systems into healthcare systems. An excellent evaluation undertaken prior to the pandemic examined a purposeful strategy to improve healthcare through an expansion in research capacity in the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS), a regional service in northern Queensland. This comment puts that evaluation into a rapidly developing wider context, drawing on other work showing an association between research engagement in healthcare organisations and their improved healthcare. In most previous studies this impact arose as a by-product of the research activity. The Townsville scheme went further. But while the evaluation identified some progress and impacts, they were patchy, not system-wide. Recent pre-pandemic studies showed that going even further and integrating a health research system across a national healthcare system markedly improved healthcare, despite continuing challenges. The UK’s research experiences during COVID-19 are giving additional momentum to this approach globally.

    Keywords: Research Capacity, Research Engagement, Research Impact, Research Translation, Health Research Systems, COVID-19
  • Sarin Kc, Lydia Wenxin Lin, Diana Beatriz Samson Bayani, Yaroslava Zemlyanska, Amanda Adler, Jeonghoon Ahn, Kelvin Chan, Dechen Choiphel, Anne Julienne Genuino-Marfori, Brendon Kearney, Yuehua Liu, Ryota Nakamura, Fiona Pearce, Shankar Prinja, Raoh-Fang Pwu, Arsul Akmal Shafie, Binyan Sui, Auliya Suwantika, Sean Tunis, Hui-Min Wu, John Zalcberg, Kun Zhao, Wanrudee Isaranuwatchai, Yot Teerawattananon, Hwee-Lin Wee * Page 160

    Globally, there is increasing interest in the use of real-world data (RWD) and real-world evidence (RWE) to inform health technology assessment (HTA) and reimbursement decision-making. Using current practices and case studies shared by eleven health systems in Asia, a non-binding guidance that seeks to align practices for generating and using RWD/RWE for decision-making in Asia was developed by the REAL World Data In ASia for HEalth Technology Assessment in Reimbursement (REALISE) Working Group, addressing a current gap and needs among HTA users and generators.


      The guidance document was developed over two face-to-face workshops, in addition to an online survey, a face-to-face interview and pragmatic search of literature. The specific focus was on what, where and how to collect RWD/RWE.


      All 11 REALISE member jurisdictions participated in the online survey and the first in-person workshop, 10 participated in the second in-person workshop, and 8 participated in the in-depth face-to-face interviews. The guidance document was iteratively reviewed by all working group members and the International Advisory Panel. There was substantial variation in: (a) sources and types of RWD being used in HTA, and (b) the relative importance and prioritization of RWE being used for policy-making. A list of national-level databases and other sources of RWD available in each country was compiled. A list of useful guidance on data collection, quality assurance and study design were also compiled.


      The REALISE guidance document serves to align the collection of better quality RWD and generation of reliable RWE to ultimately inform HTA in Asia.

    Keywords: Asia, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis, Health Technology Assessment, Real-World Data, Real-World Evidence, Reimbursement
  • Carmen Huckel Schneider *, Sarika Parambath, James Young, Swatee Jain, Helen Slater, Saurab Sharma, Deborah Kopansky-Giles, Lyn March, Andrew Briggs Page 161

      Global policy to guide action on musculoskeletal (MSK) health is in a nascent phase. Lagging behind other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) there is currently little global policy to assist governments to develop national approaches to MSK health. Considering the importance of comparison and learning for global policy development, we aimed to perform a comparative analysis of national MSK policies to identify areas of innovation and draw common themes and principles that could guide MSK health policy.


      Multi-modal search strategy incorporating a systematic online search targeted at the 30 most populated nations; a call to networked experts; a specified question in a related eDelphi questionnaire; and snowballing methods. Extracted data were organised using an a priori framework adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO) Building Blocks and further inductive coding. Subsequently, texts were open coded and thematically analysed to derive specific sub-themes and principles underlying texts within each theme, serving as abstracted, transferable concepts for future global policy.


      The search yielded 165 documents with 41 retained after removal of duplicates and exclusions. Only three documents were comprehensive national strategies addressing MSK health. The most common conditions addressed in the documents were pain (non-cancer), low back pain, occupational health, inflammatory conditions, and osteoarthritis. Across eight categories, we derived 47 sub-themes with transferable principles that could guide global policy for: service delivery; workforce; medicines and technologies; financing; data and information systems; leadership and governance; citizens, consumers and communities; and research and innovation.


      There are few examples of national strategic policy to address MSK health; however, many countries are moving towards this by documenting the burden of disease and developing policies for MSK services. This review found a breadth of principles that can add to this existing work and may be adopted to develop comprehensive system-wide MSK health approaches at national and global levels.

    Keywords: Policy Content Analysis, Global Policy, Musculoskeletal Health, Policy Learning
  • James Colgrove * Page 162

    Attwell and Hannah present a cogent analysis of why policy-makers in four jurisdictions chose to use coercive approaches to increase vaccination rates between 2015 and 2017. Their study calls attention to the challenging political calculations that are necessary when choosing between coercion and persuasion to increase vaccine uptake. Further research is needed on the consequences of making a mandatory vaccination policy more restrictive, in order to better understand the backlash and resistance such a strategy may provoke. Although one reason that policy-makers may choose a coercive approach is that it is cheaper and easier to implement than a persuasive one, sociopolitical trends and backlash related to the COVID-19 pandemic may make coercive policies more politically risky in the coming years.

    Keywords: Immunization, Public Health, Ethics
  • Ipek Eren Vural *, Matthew Herder, Agnieszka Doll, Janice E. Graham Page 163

      Analysing the Canadian government’s efforts to support the development of COVID-19 “medical countermeasures” (MCMs), this article seeks insights into political economy as a driver of pandemic response. We explore whether Canadian public funding policy during the pandemic involved departures from established practices of financialisation in biopharmaceutical research and development (R&D), including the dominance of private sector involvement in an intellectual property (IP) intensive approach to innovation underscoring profit, and governance opacity.


      We interrogate public funding for MCMs by analyzing how much the Government of Canada (GoC) spent, how those funds were allocated, on what terms, and to whom. We identify the funding institutions, and the funds awarded between February 10, 2020, and March 31, 2021, to support the research, development, and manufacturing of MCMs, including diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and information about clinical management and virus transmission. To collect these data, we conducted searches on the Internet, public data repositories, and filed several requests under the Access to Information Act (1985). Subsequently, we carried out a document-based analysis of electronically accessible research contracts, proposals, grant calls, and policy announcements.


      The GoC announced CAD$ 1.4 billion for research, development and manufacturing of COVID-19 MCMs. Fully 68 (CAD$ 959 million) of the announced public funding was channelled to investment in private sector firms. Canadian public funding showed a consistent focus on early and late stage development of COVID-19 MCMs and the expansion of biopharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. Assessing whether Canada’s investments into developing COVID-19 MCMs safeguard affordable and transparent access to the products of publicly funded research, we found that access policies on IP management, sharing of clinical data, affordability and availability were not systematic, consistent, or transparent, and few, if any, mechanisms ensured long-term sustainability.


      Beyond incremental change in policy goals, such as public investment in domestic biomanufacturing, the features of Canadian public policies endorsing financialization in the biopharmaceutical sector remained largely unchanged during the pandemic.

    Keywords: Transparency, intellectual property, Access Policies, biomanufacturing, Innovation, Vaccines
  • Erik Wackers *, Simone Dulmen, Bart Berden, Jan Kremer, Niek Stadhouders, Patrick Jeurissen Page 164

    Hospital strategies aimed at increasing quality of care and simultaneously reducing costs show potential to improve healthcare, but knowledge on real-world effectiveness is limited. In 2014, two Dutch hospitals introduced such quality-driven strategies. Our aim was to evaluate contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes of both strategies using multiple perspectives.


      We conducted a mixed methods evaluation. Four streams of data were collected and analysed: (1) semistructured interviewing of 62 stakeholders, such as medical doctors, nurses, managers, general practitioners (GPs), and consultants; (2) financial statements of both organisations and other hospitals in the Netherlands (counterfactual); (3) national database of quality indicators, and patient-reported experiences; and (4) existing material on strategy development and effects.


      Both strategies resulted in a relative decrease in volume of care within the hospital, while quality of care has not been affected negatively. One hospital failed to cut operating costs sufficiently, resulting in declining profit margins. We identified six main mechanisms that impacted these outcomes: (1) Quality-improvement projects spur change and commitment; (2) increased coordination between hospital and primary care leads to substitution of care; (3) insufficient use of data and support hinder quality improvement; (4) scaling down hospital facilities is required to convert volume reductions to cost savings; (5) shared savings through global budgets lead to shared efforts between payer and hospital; and (6) financial security for physicians facilitates shift towards quality-driven care.


      This integrated analysis of mixed data sources demonstrated that the institution-wide nature of the strategies has induced a shift from a focus on production towards quality of care. Longer-term (financial) sustainability of hospital strategies aimed at decelerating production growth requires significant efforts in reducing fixed costs. This strategy poses financial risks for the hospital if operating costs are insufficiently reduced or if payer alignment is compromised.

    Keywords: Hospital Strategy, Quality Improvement, Cost Reduction, Implementation, The Netherlands
  • Flavia Mori Sarti * Page 165

    Optimal resource allocation within national health systems represents the ultimate challenge in diverse countries worldwide. Major part of the literature points that health systems decentralization potentially address the challenge. The present commentary focuses on the debate referring to effects of health systems decentralization, based on the evidence of the study of Arianna Rotulo and colleagues. Studies on the subject emphasize the role of path dependence and the influence of choice of indicators for measurement of effects in the assessment of health systems decentralization. Acknowledging the complexity of the phenomena, the results of the study of Rotulo et al on health system decentralization in Italy are highlighted through the analysis of recent evidence from the literature. The present commentary shows that there are diverse indicators adopted in the literature on the subject, pointing to mixed results, depending on country characteristics and selection of indicators in the analysis. The synthesis of indicators gathered in recent studies also indicate that health system indicators are sensitive to path dependence, thus, requiring additional attention to assumptions of studies on health systems decentralization. Thus, studies should consider the influence of path dependence on organizational practices and institutional structures involved in decentralization processes, in addition to acknowledging that assessments on decentralization vary substantially according to indicators adopted in the analysis, and their links with previous decisions within health systems.

    Keywords: Health System, Decentralization, Path Dependence, Outcome Indicator, Public Health, Healthcare
  • Gabriele Prati *, Cinzia Albanesi Page 166

    This commentary discusses an article by Jacobs and George which investigated how youth participation can be an important component of health policy-making by conducting a case study based on qualitative interviews. We appreciate the methodology and the main findings of the study, which contribute to advancing our understanding of the challenges and opportunities of youth participation in health policy-making. We note that this article raises several questions and issues that we must address to advance research and practice: (i) is there is a substantial gap between rhetoric and reality in terms of youth participation? (ii) do youth policies have a direct impact on youth participation? (iii) can we define and operationalise meaningful engagement? (iv) who is included and who is excluded in youth participation projects? and (v) is youth participation a right, a requirement and a value?

    Keywords: Youth Participation, Health Policy, Policy-Making Process, Actors, Youth, Empowerment
  • Weiyan Jian *, Qiaosheng Li, Lanyue Zhang Page 167

    In the paper “Quality and Performance Measurement in Primary Diabetes Care: A Qualitative Study in Urban China,” Rasooly and colleagues provide an in-depth analysis of the ways in which Shanghai manages the quality and performance of the primary healthcare (PHC). The present commentary extends the analytical perspective offered in this paper from the city of Shanghai to the entire Chinese Mainland. In so doing, it points out certain systemic shortcomings in the capabilities of family doctors, the unreasonable competition between primary, secondary, and tertiary forms of healthcare, and the negative incentives in the salary system for PHC providers that must be overcome to improve performance. This commentary also proposes strategies and other recommendations for overcoming the bottlenecks identified in the paper as a means of systematically enhancing PHC performance across Mainland China.

    Keywords: Primary Healthcare, Quality of Care, China