Systematic synthesis of community-based rehabilitation (CBR) project evaluation reports for evidence-based policy: a proof-of-concept study

Pim Kuipers, Sheila Wirz and Sally Hartley
Published: 6 March 2008
BMC International Health and Human Rights 2008, 8:3
Full text via this page > 1472-698X-8-3.pdf

Abstract
Background: This paper presents the methodology and findings from a proof-of-concept study
undertaken to explore the viability of conducting a systematic, largely qualitative synthesis of
evaluation reports emanating from Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) projects in developing
countries.

Methods: Computer assisted thematic qualitative analysis was conducted on recommendation
sections from 37 evaluation reports, arising from 36 disability and development projects in 22
countries. Quantitative overviews and qualitative summaries of the data were developed.
Results: The methodology was found to be feasible and productive. Fifty-one themes were
identified and the most important ones of these are presented to illustrate the significance of the
method. The relative priorities of these themes indicated that “management” issues were the
primary areas in which recommendations were made. Further analysis of themes reflected the
emphasis evaluators placed on the need for enhanced management, organisational, personnel and
administrative infrastructure in CBR projects. Evaluators consistently recommended that CBR
projects should be more connected and collaborative at governmental, organisational, political and
community levels. The synthesis also noted that evaluators questioned the emphasis in CBR on
project expansion and income generation.

Conclusion: The application of the synthesis methodology utilised in this proof-of-concept study
was found to be potentially very beneficial for future research in CBR, and indeed in any area within
health services or international development in which evaluation reports rather than formal
“research evidence” is the primary source material. The proof-of-concept study identified a number
of limitations which are outlined. Based on the conclusions of 37 evaluation reports, future policy
frameworks and implementation strategies in CBR should include a stronger emphasis on technical,
organisational, administrative and personnel aspects of management and strategic leadership.

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