Hoffman, S.J. ed., 2010. Student Voices: Advocating for Global Health through Evidence, Insight and Action, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. PDF
Hoffman, S.J., 2010. Strengthening Global Health Diplomacy in Canada's Foreign Policy Architecture: Literature Review and Key Informant Interviews. Canadian Foreign Policy Journal , 16 (3) , pp. 17 - 41. PDFAbstract

Global health is a growing concern because it its potential to affect the peace, security and prosperity of individuals worldwide. Global health diplomacy can mitigate this concern by integrating leadership across health and foreign policy spheres. Given the limited resources available for global health initiatives, it is important to show that investment in this area can bring tangible results for participants. In the case study of health diplomacy in Canada, several comparative advantages are identified including a strong international reputation, technical expertise and membership in a variety of multilateral organizations. However, there is still room for Canada to improve elements of its health diplomacy, such as by prioritizing health in foreign policy, promoting collaboration across government departments, engaging with key partners and stakeholders.

Guindon, E.G., et al., 2010. Bridging the Gaps Between Research, Policy and Practice in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: a Survey of Health Care Providers. Canadian Medical Association Journal , 182 (9) , pp. E362-72. PDFAbstract

Background: Gaps continue to exist between research-based evidence and clinical practice. We surveyed health care providers in 10 low- and middle-income countries about their use of research-based evidence and examined factors that may facilitate or impede such use.

Methods: We surveyed 1499 health care providers practising in one of four areas relevant to the Millennium Development Goals (prevention of malaria, care of women seeking contraception, care of children with diarrhea and care of patients with tuberculosis) in each of China, Ghana, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Senegal and Tanzania.

Results: The proportion of respondents who reported that research was likely to change their clinical practice if performed and published in their own country (84.6% and 86.0% respectively) was higher than the proportion who reported the same about research and publications from their region (66.4% and 63.1%) or from high-income countries (55.8% and 55.5%). Respondents who were most likely to report that the use of research-based evidence led to changes in their practice included those who reported using clinical practice guidelines in paper format (odds ratio [OR] 1.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03-2.28), using scientific journals from their own country in paper format (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.26-2.28), viewing the quality of research performed in their country as above average or excellent (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.16-3.22); trusting systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.08-2.35); and having easy access to the Internet (OR 1.90, 95% CI 1.19-3.02).

Interpretation: Locally conducted or published research has played an important role in changing the professional practice of health care providers surveyed in low- and middle-income countries. Increased investments in local research, or at least in locally adapted publications of research-based evidence from other settings, are therefore needed. Although access to the Internet was viewed as a significant factor in whether research-based evidence led to concrete changes in practice, few respondents reported having easy access to the Internet. Therefore, efforts to improve Internet access in clinical settings need to be accelerated.

Hoffman, S.J., 2010. The Evolution, Etiology and Eventualities of the Global Health Security Regime. Health Policy Plan , 25 (6) , pp. 510-22. PDFAbstract

Background: Attention to global health security governance is more important now than ever before. Scientists predict that a possible influenza pandemic could affect 1.5 billion people, cause up to 150 million deaths and leave US$3 trillion in economic damages. A public health emergency in one country is now only hours away from affecting many others.

Methods: Using regime analysis from political science, the principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures by which states govern health security are examined in the historical context of their punctuated evolution. This methodology illuminates the catalytic agents of change, distributional consequences and possible future orders that can help to better inform progress in this area.

Findings: Four periods of global health security governance are identified. The first is characterized by unilateral quarantine regulations (1377-1851), the second by multiple sanitary conferences (1851-92), the third by several international sanitary conventions and international health organizations (1892-1946) and the fourth by the hegemonic leadership of the World Health Organization (1946-????). This final regime, like others before it, is challenged by globalization (e.g. limitations of the new International Health Regulations), changing diplomacy (e.g. proliferation of global health security organizations), new tools (e.g. global health law, human rights and health diplomacy) and shock-activated vulnerabilities (e.g. bioterrorism and avian/swine influenza). This understanding, in turn, allows us to appreciate the impact of this evolving regime on class, race and gender, as well as to consider four possible future configurations of power, including greater authority for the World Health Organization, a concert of powers, developing countries and civil society organizations.

Conclusions: This regime analysis allows us to understand the evolution, etiology and eventualities of the global health security regime, which is essential for national and international health policymakers, practitioners and academics to know where and how to act effectively in preparation for tomorrow's challenges.

Hoffman, S.J., Lavis, J.N. & Bennett, S., 2009. The Use of Research Evidence in Two International Organizations' Recommendations about Health Systems. Healthcare Policy , 5 (1) , pp. 66-86. PDFAbstract

Background: Little is known about the extent to which research evidence informs the development of recommendations by international organizations.

Methods: We identified specific World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank recommendations on five topics (contracting, healthcare financing, health human resources, tuberculosis control and tobacco control), catalogued the related systematic reviews and assessed the recommendations to determine their consistency with the systematic reviews that were available at the time of their formulation.

Findings: Only two of the eight publications examined were found to cite systematic reviews, and only five of 14 WHO and two of seven World Bank recommendations were consistent with both the direction and nature of effect claims from systematic reviews. Ten of 14 WHO and five of seven World Bank recommendations were consistent with the direction of effect claims only.

Conclusion: WHO and the World Bank - working with donor agencies and national governments - can improve their use of (or at least, their reporting about their use of) research evidence. Decision-makers and clinicians should critically evaluate the quality and local applicability of recommendations from any source, including international organizations, prior to their implementation.