Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Interviewing Key Informants: Strategic Planning for a Global Public Health Management Program

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Interviewing Key Informants: Strategic Planning for a Global Public Health Management Program

Article excerpt

Introduction

Our program

The Sustainable Management Development Program (SMDP) is a global public health management capacity development program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It partners with Ministries of Health, educational institutions, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in low- and middle-resource countries to develop global public health management capacity so that effective public health programs can be designed and implemented, and better health outcomes can be achieved.

CDC's approach to developing global public health management capacity involved sponsoring the 6-week long Management for International Public Health (MIPH) course in Atlanta, GA. Participants came from foreign Ministries of Health, NGOs, and academic institutions in low- and middle-resource countries. CDC trained 379 individuals from 66 countries from 1992 through 2008 (Figure 1) in the course. CDC staff provided follow-up technical assistance (either remotely from Atlanta or through in person site visits) when funding was available to support the expectation that alumni would subsequently develop public health management training and capacity development programs in their countries of origin.

The impact of our program's approach was variable. In some countries, our course alumni implemented public health management programs that improved the performance of public health teams, initiatives, and organizations (Sogoric et al., 2009; Umble et al., 2009). In other countries, our alumni did not establish any public health management capacity development programs at all, or did not successfully maintain the programs they did establish, thus providing little or no evidence of our program's impact. Consequently, we decided to evaluate how our program could be improved and simultaneously contribute useful data to a broader strategic planning process that our program was undertaking.

Literature

Qualitative evaluation and methods in strategic planning.

We decided to conduct a qualitative evaluation because, according to Patton: "The purpose of interviewing ... is to allow us to enter into the other person's perspective" (Patton, 2002, p. 341). This is what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to allow our alumni in low- and middle-resource countries to give voice to their experiences in order to improve our program and inform our strategic planning process. We thus sought to learn from our alumni and better understand their challenges and successes in implementing public health management capacity programs in their countries of origin. We also wanted them to share their perspectives on how we could improve our program and better meet their needs.

We subsequently conducted a literature review to help us shape the focus of our qualitative evaluation and our program's larger strategic planning process. We found several examples in the literature regarding how qualitative methods can be used in evaluation and strategic planning. Vorhees (2008) provides a general overview of using interviews, focus groups, and group strategy sessions.

Several articles describe using key informant interviews in strategic planning. Szydlowski and Smith (2009) use key informant interviews with chief information officers to better understand the implementation of information technology within hospital settings. Inui et al. (2009) detail using key informant interviews in evaluating a HIV care program in Kenya and for related strategic planning purposes. Gruffudd (2008) describes using key informant interviews in evaluating an air ambulance program and how these data contributed to strategic planning. Teng, Milton, and Mackenzie (2007) portray using key informant interviews in better understanding priority-setting within a provincial health services authority's strategic planning process. Lee (2006) interviews nurse managers of medical center inpatient units (i.e. key informants) to better understand how they adopt personal digital assistant technology, and describes how these results can be used to strategically plan for improving the implementation of technology. …

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