Executive Summary

Midterm Evaluation of the Pandemic Preparedness Strategic Research Initiative

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Purpose

As part of the Government of Canada's Avian Influenza and Pandemic Influenza (AI/PI) Preparedness Strategy, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Infection and Immunity (CIHR-III) was charged with developing and supporting pandemic influenza preparedness research programs. Its Pandemic Preparedness Strategic Research Initiative (PPSRI), with targeted resources from CIHR of $21.5 million over five years (2006-2011) as well as contributions from partner organizations, supports research intended to improve Canada's ability to prevent and/or respond to an influenza pandemic. This document presents the findings of a formative, midterm evaluation of the PPSRI.

Information sources

Evaluation questions focusing on the PPSRI's expected outputs and short-term outcomes were identified with the help of a PPSRI Midterm Evaluation Steering Committee. The following data sources were used to address the questions:

  • Review of documentation relevant to program design and delivery;
  • Review of administrative data on program outputs;
  • Key informant interviews with 22 PPSRI stakeholders; 
  • E-survey of pandemic researchers (157 respondents, response rate 34%), including successful and unsuccessful applicants to the PPSRI and non-applicants.

Findings

Overall, the design, delivery and initial outputs of the PPSRI are ensuring that the overall goals for the PPSRI, of improving Canada's pandemic preparedness and of increasing pandemic preparedness research capacity, can be achieved.

Areas identified for additional support or alternative strategies to ensure that they can maximally contribute to the achievement of PPSRI objectives include:

  • development of a coordinated international research agenda;
  • stimulating pandemic preparedness research with a public health focus;
  • facilitating broader engagement of the influenza research community with more elements of the PPSRI's KT strategy;
  • capacity development through the engagement of trainees and other strategies;
  • communications that more effectively ensure that the research community is aware of the initiative and all its specificities.

The evaluation findings show that the PPSRI has been especially successful in several key areas:

  • developing solid and productive partnerships with national agencies;
  • developing consensus on research priorities and then implementing tools to address those priorities;
  • creating platforms to foster networking and eventual collaboration that are engaging researchers, trainees and potential research users;
  • significant resource leveraging for pandemic preparedness research, doubling the funds provided through CIHR.

These strengths provide a solid foundation for continued success as the PPSRI moves forward.

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