Major global health initiatives have brought new opportunities and increased funding for health programmes in countries tackling diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and HIV/AIDS. However, to deploy these investments effectively, health programme managers need much better access to research that assesses the advantages and disadvantages of different strategies. Communicating key findings via the sources of information that health officials use and trust helps to maximise the impact of research on policy and practice. We contacted heads of communicable disease programmes in six countries to ask them about their most important and most frequently used sources of information, as well as the source of information behind their most recent policy change. African respondents particularly emphasised the importance of the World Health Organization (WHO) to influence policy, as well as some mention of international donors. Asian respondents, however, reported being guided much more by in-country information and surveillance. 'Most recent' policy changes having to do with drug treatments (particularly for malaria, but also in one TB policy) were influenced by the WHO, while other TB and HIV policy changes drew on wider sources of information, depending on the nature of the policy change considered (e.g. service structure, treatment approach or populations targeted). Our approach illustrates a first step many researchers may wish to engage in to help guide dissemination strategies to maximise potential research uptake.
Tropical Medicine & International Health (2010) 15 (10), 1252–1255 [doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02599.x]