Kindly allow me to share my experience and knowledge [below] to HIFA Forum concerning the role of researchers in research communication, needs and preferences of policymakers and support for researchers in communicating health research.
Thank you and regards,
Khin Thet Wai
Working Group Member
HIFA profile: Khin Thet Wai is a former Director at the Department of Medical Research, Myanmar. She is a medical doctor and holds the Master's degree in Public Health from Institute of Medicine, Yangon and has a second Master's degree conferred by the Institute forfor Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Thailand. She is a dedicated public health researcher specializing Epidemiology and Health Policy and Systems Research. https://www.hifa.org/support/members/khin-thet khinthetwaidmr AT gmail.com
Q3. What is the role of researchers in research communication, beyond the publication of their paper? What is the role of other stakeholders (eg communication professionals, editors, media, public health professionals and critical thinkers)
It is of utmost importance to create the enabling environment for research communication beyond scientific publications. Researchers need to engage with regulatory authorities, policymakers and program implementers, academia, media personnel, and other influential stakeholders for future research directions to gather more evidence. The attempts to communicate reliable evidence to attract funding agencies for subsequent primary and secondary research are not uncommon. Multiple platforms and multiple channels are desirable in championing the relevant issues among public health professionals and also among academia to address further advancement of new knowledge gained. When it comes to unprecedented pandemics such as COVID-19, proven evidence of therapeutic and preventive interventions stimulates the pharmaceutical industries for mass production. Moreover, communicating research evidence beyond published articles to regulatory authorities brings about specific actions such as emergency use authorization, expansion of authorization, and withdrawal of previously authorized therapeutic products. Researchers could convince policymakers to operationalise the cumulative evidence by simply phrasing policy briefs, plain language summaries, and new/modified/updated clinical guidelines. This reflects the role of tertiary research in handling the portfolio of research evidence beyond publications. On the other side of the coin, researchers' endurance is critical when facing with challenges of knowledge translation and transfer for complex issues.
Q4. What are the needs and preferences of policymakers?
Needless to say, researchers' commitment towards seeking solutions by primary and/or secondary research to address priority health problems and to empower communities should match with the preferences of policymakers. Considerable understanding of the needs and concerns of policymakers from the outset should be in place by taking into account of the annual reports, keynote addresses, recent health regulations and acts, donor evaluation reports, meeting minutes etc. Mostly, policymakers might prefer research recommendations leading to short term solutions with visible outcomes to gain public confidence and quick win. By and large, rapid surveys and mixed methods approaches might fulfil the needs of policymakers for quick decisions and resource allocation for implementing effective strategies. However, safeguarding the quality of research in terms of scientific integrity and ethical soundness is of paramount importance.
Q5. What can be done to better support researchers in the communication of health research?
Capacity building for knowledge management and developing policy briefs in terms of short courses, training workshops and introducing mentoring process will effectively support researchers to communicate health research successfully to policymakers. Their communication skills require further improvement in this connection. On the other hand, training/advocating policy makers and program implementers in knowledge translation and utilization of research findings might be helpful for researchers to overcome the existing barriers.