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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2011 Jan;15(1):6-13.

Operational research for improved tuberculosis control: the scope, the needs and the way forward.

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Stop TB Partnership & Stop TB Department, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


The promotion of research is one of the main components of the World Health Organizations Stop TB Strategy, which includes 'programme-based operational research (OR)' and 'research on introducing new tools into practice'. The importance of OR in improving tuberculosis (TB) control was recognised a long time ago, and historical OR studies have been instrumental in the development of major strategies for TB control. Although a growing number of OR projects are being conducted in the world today, little is known about their results or their likely impact on TB control programmes. As funding organisations increasingly recognise the need for OR, we propose a rational framework to conduct OR, which covers a spectrum from local setting-oriented to international policy guiding research, and determines the relevance, replicability and generalisability of the results. OR in TB control is aimed at 1) improving programme performance; 2) assessing the feasibility, effectiveness and impact of new strategies or interventions on TB control; and 3) collecting evidence to guide policy recommendations on specific interventions. This requires strengthened capacity to plan and conduct OR in low-income countries and appropriate support to conduct both nationally and internationally led OR projects. Suggestions are made for potential steps for improved purpose-driven OR, which may help to improve TB control locally and inform policy recommendations internationally.

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