With Operations Research (OR) becoming in integral part of child survival projects, I attended a pre-CORE meeting workshop designed to explore this topic. OR was described as a subset of implementation research that studies the processes of an intervention to define HOW and WHY the intervention works. It leads to a detailed description of key intervention components, which is useful for replication and scale-up.
Operational problems are barriers that hinder the uptake of interventions. OR addresses these specific problems within a program by testing a feasible solution. As an example, for a barrier of limited accessibility to perinatal services, one might use OR to study the utility of maternity waiting homes. The focus is delineating feasible solution/s to overcoming the barrier/s.
Operations research uses scientific techniques with approaches that vary from descriptive to experimental. The OR study is formulated during the planning stage of a project, runs parallel with the project, involves ongoing monitoring and analysis, and includes immediate ongoing incorporation of findings to improve program operations. Successful OR studies are aligned with the Ministry of Health, are contextually relevant, focus on and disseminate results that inform change, build on strategic partnerships, and engage/inform stakeholders.
With our training and past experience in scientific research methodology (both qualitative and quantitative), Story Consulting is well-positioned to assist organizations with OR study designs, implementation, and evaluation.
Here are some great OR resources from the CORE Group Spring Meeting:
CORE workshop slides: Understanding Operations Research in a Program
OR Workshop materials for CSHGP Innovation Grants