Methodologies Used to Study the Implementation of Family Planning/Reproductive Health Policies within Complex Systems and Environments
Laili Irani, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Matthew Hamilton, Futures Group
Mariela Rodriguez, Futures Group
Karen Hardee, Population Council
The presence of supportive FP/RH policies is considered an integral component to successful programs. However, much remains to be known about how policies are implemented, especially in a complex political, sociocultural and economic environment. Based on a review of academic and programmatic/applied literature, this paper outlines the various methodologies that can be used to study policy implementation, which include descriptive methodologies such as literature reviews and case studies; analytic methodologies such as stakeholder mapping and analysis, cross-sectional surveys and system dynamics; quasi-experimental and experimental studies; studies describing policy implementation within complex adaptive systems, such as, path dependence; and mixed methods as well including focus groups, document analysis and interviews. This study further highlights the challenges of using rigorous research methods to determine the link between policy implementation and health systems and outcomes. Finally, the paper recommends that further research using rigorous methodologies is needed to study policy implementation.