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Methodological and practical viewpoints of qualitative-driven mixed method design: The case of decentralisation of primary healthcare services in NepalBackground Although considerable attention has been paid to the use of quantitative methods in health research, there has been limited focus on decentralisation research using a qualitative-driven mixed method design. Decentralisation presents both a problematic concept and methodological challenges, and is more context-specific and is often multi-dimensional. Researchers often consider using more than one method design when researching phenomena is complex in nature. Aim To explore the effects of decentralisation on the provision of primary healthcare services. Methods Qualitative-driven mixed method design, employing three methods of data collections: focus group discussions (FGDs), semi-structured interviews (SSIs) and participant observations under two components, that is, core component and supplementary components were used. Four FGDs with health service practitioners, three FGDs with district stakeholders, 20 SSIs with health service users and 20 SSIs with national stakeholders were carried out. These were conducted sequentially. NVivo10, a data management program, was utilised to code the field data, employing a content analysis method for searching the underlying themes or concepts in the text material. Findings Both positive and negative experiences related to access, quality, planning, supplies, coordination and supervision were identified. Conclusion This study suggests some evidence of the effects of decentralisation on health outcomes in general, as well as filling a gap of understanding and examining healthcare through a qualitative-driven mixed methods approach, in particular. Future research in the area of qualitative in-depth understanding of the problems (why decentralisation, why now and what for) would provoke an important data set that benefits the researchers and policy-makers for planning and implementing effective health services.
Public–private partnerships to improve primary healthcare surgeries: clarifying assumptions about the role of private provider activitiesTo examine assumptions about public–private partnership (PPP) activities and their role in improving public procurement of primary healthcare surgeries. PPPs were developed to improve the quality of care and patient satisfaction. However, evidence of their effectiveness in delivering health benefits is limited. A qualitative study design was employed. A total of 25 interviews with public sector staff (n=23) and private sector managers (n=2) were conducted to understand their interpretations of assumptions in the activities of private investors and service contractors participating in Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) partnerships. Realist evaluation principles were applied in the data analysis to interpret the findings. Six thematic areas of assumed health benefits were identified: (i) quality improvement; (ii) improved risk management; (iii) reduced procurement costs; (iv) increased efficiency; (v) community involvement; and (vi) sustainable investment. Primary Care Trusts that chose to procure their surgeries through LIFT were expected to support its implementation by providing an environment conducive for the private participants to achieve these benefits. Private participant activities were found to be based on a range of explicit and tacit assumptions perceived helpful in achieving government objectives for LIFT. The success of PPPs depended upon private participants’ (i) capacity to assess how PPP assumptions added value to their activities, (ii) effectiveness in interpreting assumptions in their expected activities, and (iii) preparedness to align their business principles to government objectives for PPPs. They risked missing some of the expected benefits because of some factors constraining realization of the assumptions. The ways in which private participants preferred to carry out their activities also influenced the extent to which expected benefits were achieved. Giving more discretion to public than private participants over critical decisions may help in ensuring that assumptions in PPP activities result in outcomes that match the anticipated health benefits.