Applied public health research -- falling through the cracks?
BMC Public Health 2009 ; 9: 362.
DOI : 10.1186/1471-2458-9-362
PubMed ID : 19781062
There is a degree of dissonance between the types of evaluative research required by organisations providing or commissioning health care, those recommended by organisations developing evidence-based guidance, and those which research funding bodies are prepared to support.
We present a case study of efforts to establish a pragmatic but robust evaluation of local exercise referral schemes. We considered the epidemiological, ethical and practical advantages and disadvantages of a number of study designs and applied for research funding based on an uncontrolled design, outlining the difficulties of carrying out a randomised controlled trial to evaluate an existing service.
Our proposal was praised for its relevance and clear patient outcomes, but the application was twice rejected because both funders and reviewers insisted on a randomised controlled trial design, which we had found to be impractical, unacceptable to service users and potentially unethical.
The case study highlights continuing challenges for applied public health research in the current funding climate.