1Clinical Epidemiology Unit, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
2Regional East Africa Community Health Policy Initiative (REACH-PI) (Uganda Country Node), Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
3Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Although proven feasible, rapid response services (RRSs) to support urgent decision and policymaking are still a fairly new and innovative strategy in several health systems, more especially in low-income countries. There are several information gaps about these RRSs that exist including the factors that make them work in different contexts and in addition what affects their uptake by potential end users.
We used a case study employing process evaluation methods to determine what contextual factors affect the utilization of a RRS in Uganda. We held in-depth interviews with researchers, knowledge translation (KT) specialists and policy-makers from several research and policy-making institutions in Uganda’s health sector. We analyzed the data using thematic analysis to develop categories and themes about activities and structures under given program components that affected uptake of the service.
We identified several factors under three themes that have both overlapping relations and also reinforcing loops amplifying each other: Internal factors (those factors that were identified as over which the RRS had full [or almost full] control); external factors (factors over which the service had only partial influence, a second party holds part of this influence); and environmental factors (factors over which the service had no or only remote control if at all). Internal factors were the design of the service and resources available for it, while the external factors were the service’s visibility, integrity and relationships. Environmental factors were political will and health system policy and decision-making infrastructure.
For health systems practitioners considering RRSs, knowing what factors will affect uptake and therefore modifying them within their contexts is important to ensure efficient use and successful utilization of the mechanisms.
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