Implementing accountability for reasonableness framework at district level in Tanzania: a realist evaluation
2011 (English)In: Implementation Science, ISSN 1748-5908, Vol. 6, Article nr 11- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Background: Despite the growing importance of the Accountability for Reasonableness (A4R) framework in priority setting worldwide, there is still an inadequate understanding of the processes and mechanisms underlying its influence on legitimacy and fairness, as conceived and reflected in service management processes and outcomes. As a result, the ability to draw scientifically sound lessons for the application of the framework to services and interventions is limited. This paper evaluates the experiences of implementing the A4R approach in Mbarali District, Tanzania, in order to find out how the innovation was shaped, enabled, and constrained by the interaction between contexts, mechanisms and outcomes.
Methods: This study draws on the principles of realist evaluation - a largely qualitative approach, chiefly concerned with testing and refining programme theories by exploring the complex interactions of contexts, mechanisms, and outcomes. Mixed methods were used in data collection, including individual interviews, non-participant observation, and document reviews. A thematic framework approach was adopted for the data analysis.
Results: The study found that while the A4R approach to priority setting was helpful in strengthening transparency, accountability, stakeholder engagement, and fairness, the efforts at integrating it into the current district health system were challenging. Participatory structures under the decentralisation framework, central government's call for partnership in district-level planning and priority setting, perceived needs of stakeholders, as well as active engagement between researchers and decision makers all facilitated the adoption and implementation of the innovation. In contrast, however, limited local autonomy, low level of public awareness, unreliable and untimely funding, inadequate accountability mechanisms, and limited local resources were the major contextual factors that hampered the full implementation.
Conclusion: This study documents an important first step in the effort to introduce the ethical framework A4R into district planning processes. This study supports the idea that a greater involvement and accountability among local actors through the A4R process may increase the legitimacy and fairness of priority-setting decisions. Support from researchers in providing a broader and more detailed analysis of health system elements, and the socio-cultural context, could lead to better prediction of the effects of the innovation and pinpoint stakeholders' concerns, thereby illuminating areas that require special attention to promote sustainability.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central, 2011. Vol. 6, Article nr 11- p.
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject Public health
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-39690DOI: 10.1186/1748-5908-6-11ISI: 000287512600001PubMedID: 21310021OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-39690DiVA: diva2:394722
FunderFAS, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, 2006-1512EU, European Research Council, PL 517709
This paper is part of a larger study of the EU-funded REACT project, which tests the applicability of the A4R approach to priority-setting in Mbarali District in Tanzania. Other data came from a study conducted by the first author as part of his PhD research project on priority-setting in Health Care Institutions. SM was supported by a doctoral fellowship from: the Swedish Center Party Donation for Global Research Collaboration; the Swedish Research School for Global Health; the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and the African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship offered by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) in partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Ford Foundation. PK, JB, BN, OEO and AKH were supported by the EU-funded REACT project, grant number: PL 517709. MSS was supported by the Centre for Global Health at Umea University, with support from FAS, the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (grant number 2006-1512).2011-02-032011-02-032015-04-29Bibliographically approved