As mentioned elsewhere, engagement is not only applied in relation to local geographic communities. Most health research takes place within environments in which a range of institutions may be active and each may have diffeent mandates and priorities. One element of the long-term prospects for international health research is its perceived value to local health policy issues. This article is a relatively rare look at the academic/ policy balance in elaborating health research agendas and the collaborations needed to deliver them.
Introduction While efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have reinvigorated interest in multisectoral collaborations (MSCs) among the global health and development community, there remains a plethora of questions about how best to conceptualise, plan, implement, evaluate and sustain MSCs. The objective of this paper is to present research priorities on MSC for health from researchers and policymakers around the globe, with an emphasis on low-income and middle-income countries.
Methods The authors identified 30 priority research questions from two sources: (1) 38 review articles on MSC for health, and (2) interviews and focus groups with a total of 81 policymakers, including government officials (largely from ministries of health and state/provincial departments of health, but also offices of planning, public service, social development, the prime minister and others), large multilateral or bilateral organisations, and non-governmental organisations. In a third phase, questions were refined and ranked by a diverse group of researchers from around the globe using an online voting platform.
Results The top-ranked questions focused predominantly on pragmatic questions, such as how best to structure, implement and sustain MSCs, as well as how to build stakeholder capacity and community partnerships. Despite substantial variation between review articles, policymakers’ reflections and online ranking by researchers, two topics emerged as research priorities for all three: (1) leadership, partnership and governance structures for MSCs; and (2) MSC implementation strategies and mechanisms. The review articles underscored the need for more guidance on appropriate study designs and methods for investigating MSCs, which may be a prerequisite for other identified research priorities.
Conclusion These findings could inform efforts within and beyond the health sector to better align research objectives and funding with the evidence needs of policymakers grappling with questions about how best to leverage MSCs to achieve UHC and the SDGs.