Setting up National Health Research Priorities in Malaysia through evidence gap maps
2Allergy and Immunology Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, National Institute of Health, Ministry of Health, Malaysia
3Institute for Health Behavioral Research, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health, Malaysia
4Hematology Unit, Cancer Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, National Institute of Health, Ministry of Health, Malaysia
5Office of Deputy Director General (Research & Technical Support), Ministry Of Health, Malaysia
6School of Medicine, Taylor's University, Subang Jaya, Malaysia
There are many approaches to health research priorities (HRP) settings, however there is no general agreement on what might constitute the best practice. Regardless of the lack of international consensus for the best method for research priority setting, the process must be fair, equitable, and legitimate. Prioritization allows the researchers and policymakers to channel resources, as well as donor investments, in health to the areas of the highest priority. HRP is essential to maximize the impact of investments in research.
Objectives: To identify priority areas for health research using strategies adapted from Evidence Gap Maps in Malaysia.
Methods: We conducted an evidence mapping process adapted from Evidence Gap Maps (EGMs) and Cochrane Method of prioritization to generate an “evidence map” and visually depict the distribution of evidence available and identify gaps in evidence and to inform future research priorities for this priority-setting exercise. EGMs present a new addition to the tools available to support evidence-informed policy making. EGMs are thematic evidence collections covering a range of issues. We searched PubMed, Embase, and national Research databases to identify gaps and evidence for any studies conducted in Malaysia. We invited the policymakers, stakeholders, and experts in the field to give feedback on the identified research priority areas. We conducted serial consultations with expert groups, including academics, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and funding bodies. Lastly, we ranked all the identified research priority areas.
Results: The research priorities exercise resulted in identification of eight research areas focusing on health system, communicable disease, non-communicable disease, older people, mental health, environmental, nutrition and food safety and quality, and oral as the most important problems with different profiles of priorities.
Conclusions: This EGMs provide new perspectives in presentation of evidence and help us know the need for future research to address the current gaps. The exercise adapted from EGMs covers most of the health research areas and strengthen the priority areas to be focused. Patient, public, and/or healthcare consumer involvement: researchers, stake holders.