Bridging the gaps between research, policy and practice in low- and middle-income countries: a survey of health care providers
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BACKGROUND: Gaps continue to exist between research-based evidence and clinical practice. We surveyed health care providers in 10 low- and middle-income countries about their use of research-based evidence and examined factors that may facilitate or impede such use. METHODS: We surveyed 1499 health care providers practising in one of four areas relevant to the Millennium Development Goals (prevention of malaria, care of women seeking contraception, care of children with diarrhea and care of patients with tuberculosis) in each of China, Ghana, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Senegal and Tanzania. RESULTS: The proportion of respondents who reported that research was likely to change their clinical practice if performed and published in their own country (84.6% and 86.0% respectively) was higher than the proportion who reported the same about research and publications from their region (66.4% and 63.1%) or from high-income countries (55.8% and 55.5%). Respondents who were most likely to report that the use of research-based evidence led to changes in their practice included those who reported using clinical practice guidelines in paper format (odds ratio [OR] 1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03-2.28), using scientific journals from their own country in paper format (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.26-2.28), viewing the quality of research performed in their country as above average or excellent (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.16-3.22); trusting systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.08-2.35); and having easy access to the Internet (OR 1.90, 95% CI 1.19-3.02). INTERPRETATION: Locally conducted or published research has played an important role in changing the professional practice of health care providers surveyed in low- and middle-income countries. Increased investments in local research, or at least in locally adapted publications of research-based evidence from other settings, are therefore needed. Although access to the Internet was viewed as a significant factor in whether research-based evidence led to concrete changes in practice, few respondents reported having easy access to the Internet. Therefore, efforts to improve Internet access in clinical settings need to be accelerated.
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