Dispelling myths about research in international development

Burnet Institute

18 November, 2016

A Burnet Institute study to improve the health, vision and quality of life for elders in Sri Lanka is being promoted as an illustrative rebuttal to misconceptions about the role of research in international development.

Burnet project manager Kelly Durrant set out to dispel popular myths about research and its relationship to international development in a commentary for the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).

The article, co-authored by Rachel Coghlan of the Fred Hollows Foundation, addresses negative perceptions that research in international development is exclusive, time-consuming, inapplicable and expensive.

The authors referred to Burnet’s Better Vision, Healthy Ageing (BVHA) Program, funded by The Fred Hollows Foundation, in support of their case.

Recognising that with an ageing population, the burden of vision impairment in Asia is growing, the program trialled an innovative model of healthy ageing that included health promotion, blindness prevention, and social participation through the platform of Elders’ Clubs, which allowed for the layering of research within a development program.

The research included focus group discussions to understand elders’ views on the impacts of vision impairment and barriers to eye health care, and a randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of the clubs on the health-related quality of life of elders.

“By integrating research into the program design, learnings were gained and implemented ‘live’ in the program cycle, and valuable data and knowledge for ongoing advocacy efforts on important issues have been developed,” the authors wrote.

“The study provided a lesson in how research in international development can be inclusive, time-efficient, applicable and cost-effective. Now, we need to continue to apply these principles consistently and shout about our success.”

The Fred Hollows Foundation and Burnet Institute are now looking at ways to use the research evidence to advocate for changes in future policies and practices for older people in low and middle-income countries.

Follow the links to read the ACFID blog Partnership in practice: dispelling myths about research in international development and find out more about Burnet’s Better Vision, Healthy Ageing Program.



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