Following the conclusion to the three-part weekly series of articles on the “state of the art” in health policy and systems research, published in the PLoS Medicine (9, 16, and 23 August 2011), Sara Bennett of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, USA and her colleagues developed an action plan to help build the field in addressing the current challenges and opportunities for the development of Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR).

In her agenda Bennett writes:

“Firstly, local actors, including policy-makers and researchers, must have a greater say in determining the nature of HPSR conducted;

Secondly, a better shared understanding of theoretical frames and methodological approaches for HPSR, including journals, methods training, and teaching curricula, must be developed; and

Thirdly, dedicated and supportive homes for HPSR in universities and independent research institutes are needed.”

According to the authors:

“HPSR is currently at a tipping point…Given the rush of new blood and interest in HPSR, we urgently need to move beyond individual explanations of what we do. Instead, we need to take advantage of the current interest to develop the programs and structures of a fully-fledged scientific field with core curricula, text books, scientific meetings, communities of practice, academic departments, and journals.”

They continue saying that:

“Through investment … HPSR can develop into a more crystalline form, underpinned by shared and inter-disciplinary understandings. Only with this consolidated intellectual development can the field of HPSR realize its full potential to contribute new knowledge for health systems strengthening.”

Written by Petra Rattue