Comparing public-health research priorities in Europe
McCarthy M., Harvey G., Conceição C., la Torre G., Gulis G.
Background: Despite improving trends, countries in Europe continue to face public-health challenges. This study investigated the priorities of stakeholders for research to meet these challenges. Methods: Public-health research includes population-level and health-system research, but not clinical or biomedical research. The study drew on data from three surveys undertaken through collaboration in SPHERE (Strengthening Public Health Research in Europe). There was participation of ministries in 18 of 28 (64% response) European countries, from 22 of 39 (56% response) member national associations of the European Public Health Association, and from 80 civil society health organisations (53% of members of the European Public Health Alliance) Results: Public-health research fields included disease control, health promotion and health services. Ministries of health, rather than ministries of science or education, mostly took responsibility for public-health research: they reported varied but well-defined areas for research in relation to national health plans and programmes. National public health associations reported research priorities across most fields of public health, although with some European regional differences. Civil society health organisations prioritised health promotion research nationally, but also health services research internationally. There was less research reported on methods, such as modelling and economic analysis, wider determinants of health, and public-health interventions. Conclusion: Systematic collaboration between stakeholders across European countries would enhance knowledge and promote innovation to address contemporary public-health challenges. © 2009 McCarthy et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.