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In support of enhanced research capacity on the social determinants of health

Highlighting the link between social determinants of health (SDH) and health outcomes can help lessen the major differences in health status. This is important particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where information is limited.

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The project INTREC (Indepth training and research centres of excellence) aimed to fill this information gap in Africa and Asia. With partners from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States, the consortium established the INTREC International Advisory Group (IAG) and outlined priority research areas. Thirty social scientists were recruited in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Tanzania and Vietnam to help build capacity for research on SDH in LMICs for all age groups. Efforts centred on a one-year training programme on SDH research and advocacy. Both trainees and INDEPTH centre leaders positively evaluated the programme, which included practical experience in field work and data analysis. Despite various challenges (e.g. limited bandwidth for online training, need for prior knowledge, and a need for more supervision and support), INTREC stressed the need to continue efforts to build capacity for SDH research in these and other LMIC settings. Researchers produced policy briefs, country reports, and presentations for stakeholders. They also published a paper in Global Health Action on research capacity building in SDH. Two INTREC training centres were launched in Ghana and Indonesia. Project work also resulted in a high-quality set of materials. The lessons learned provide a roadmap to guide future efforts targeting sustainable capacity for SDH research in LMICs. Translating research to policy is one area that was highlighted as needing more attention in the future. Focused efforts in this domain, and through the training and programme curriculum, should help to better link these two spheres. INTREC researchers and centres should provide a solid foundation for wider research on SDH and networking, with the INDEPTH global platform contributing to the latter. Dissemination and wider reach will support implementing research outcomes in evidence-based policymaking for improved health status and outcomes.


Social determinants of health, health status, low- and middle-income countries, training

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