UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Health policy and systems research collaboration pathways: lessons from a network science analysis English, Krista M; Pourbohloul, Babak


Background: The 2004 Mexico Declaration, and subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions, proposed a concerted support for the global development of health policy and systems research (HPSR). This included coordination across partners and advocates for the field of HPSR to monitor the development of the field, while promoting decision-making power and implementing responsibilities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods: We used a network science approach to examine the structural properties of the HPSR co-authorship network across country economic groups in the PubMed citation database from 1990 to 2015. This analysis summarises the evolution of the publication, co-authorship and citation networks within HPSR. Results: This method allows identification of several features otherwise not apparent. The co-authorship network has evolved steadily from 1990 to 2015 in terms of number of publications, but more importantly, in terms of co-authorship network connectedness. Our analysis suggests that, despite growth in the contribution from low-income countries to HPSR literature, co-authorship remains highly localised. Lower middle-income countries have made progress toward global connectivity through diversified collaboration with various institutions and regions. Global connectivity of the upper middle-income countries (UpperMICs) are almost on par with high-income countries (HICs), indicating the transition of this group of countries toward becoming major contributors to the field. Conclusions: Network analysis allows examination of the connectedness among the HSPR community. Initially (early 1990s), research groups operated almost exclusively independently and, despite the topic being specifically on health policy in LMICs, HICs provided lead authorship. Since the early 1990s, the network has evolved significantly. In the full set analysis (1990–2015), for the first time in HPSR history, more than half of the authors are connected and lead authorship from UpperMICs is on par with that of HICs. This demonstrates the shift in participation and influence toward regions which HPSR primarily serves. Understanding these interactions can highlight the current strengths and future opportunities for identifying new strategies to enhance collaboration and support capacity-building efforts for HPSR.

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