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Bull World Health Organ. 2016 Jan 1;94(1):58-64. doi: 10.2471/BLT.15.167585. Epub 2015 Dec 2.

Reporting guidelines for implementation and operational research.

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Department of Strategy, Publications and Information, World Health Organization, avenue Appia 20, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland .
Department of HIV, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland .
Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland .
Alliance for Health Policy & Systems Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland .


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In public health, implementation research is done to improve access to interventions that have been shown to work but have not reached many of the people who could benefit from them. Researchers identify practical problems facing public health programmes and aim to find solutions that improve health outcomes. In operational research, routinely-collected programme data are used to uncover ways of delivering more effective, efficient and equitable health care. As implementation research can address many types of questions, many research designs may be appropriate. Existing reporting guidelines partially cover the methods used in implementation and operational research, so we ran a consultation through the World Health Organization (WHO), the Alliance for Health Policy & Systems Research (AHPSR) and the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and developed guidelines to facilitate the funding, conduct, review and publishing of such studies. Our intention is to provide a practical reference for funders, researchers, policymakers, implementers, reviewers and editors working with implementation and operational research. This is an evolving field, so we plan to monitor the use of these guidelines and develop future versions as required.

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