A participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers' capacity at district level in Eastern Uganda

Moses Tetui, Anna Britt Coe, Anna Karin Hurtig, Sara Bennett, Suzanne N. Kiwanuka, Asha George, Elizabeth Ekirapa Kiracho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Many approaches to improving health managers' capacity in poor countries, particularly those pursued by external agencies, employ non-participatory approaches and often seek to circumvent (rather than strengthen) weak public management structures. This limits opportunities for strengthening local health managers' capacity, improving resource utilisation and enhancing service delivery. Thisstudy explored the contribution of a participatory action research approach to strengthening healthmanagers' capacity in Eastern Uganda. Methods: This was a qualitative study that used open-ended key informant interviews, combined with review of meeting minutes and observations to collect data. Both inductive and deductive thematic analysiswas undertaken. The Competing Values Framework of organisational management functions guided the deductive process of analysis and the interpretation of the findings. The framework builds on four earlier models of management and regards them as complementary rather than conflicting, and identifies four managers' capacities (collaborate, create, compete and control) by categorising them along two axes, one contrasting flexibility versus control and the other internal versus external organisational focus. Results: The findings indicate that the participatory action research approach enhanced health managers' capacity to collaborate with others, be creative, attain goals and review progress. The enablers included expanded interaction spaces, encouragement of flexibility, empowerment of local managers, and the promotion of reflection and accountability. Tension and conflict across different management functions was apparent; for example, whilethere was a need to collaborate, maintaining control over processeswas also needed. These tensions meant that managers needed to learn to simultaneously draw upon and use different capacities asreflected by the Competing Values Framework in order to maximise their effectiveness. Conclusions: Improved healthmanager capacity is essential if sustained improvements in health outcomes in low-income countries are to be attained. The expansion of interaction spaces, encouragement of flexibility, empowerment of local managers, and the promotion of reflection and accountability were the key means by which participatory action research strengthened health managers' capacity. Theparticipatory approach to implementation therefore createdopportunities to strengthen health managers' capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Volume15
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 28 2017

Keywords

  • Competing values framework
  • District health managers
  • Health systems
  • Participatory action research
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers' capacity at district level in Eastern Uganda'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this