Stakeholder perceptions of research options to improve nutritional status in Uganda

Type Journal Article - BMC Nutrition
Title Stakeholder perceptions of research options to improve nutritional status in Uganda
Volume 2
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Malnutrition is a major public health problem in sub-Saharan African countries including Uganda. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relevance of the current research options towards improving nutrition status in Uganda.

We used the Multi Criteria Mapping (MCM) technique for data collection. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. The qualitative data were gathered while quantitative scores were assigned and the qualitative data were in the form of reasons given for the scores assigned by the interviewees to each option under each criterion. We interviewed 16 high level representatives of six different stakeholder groups including health professionals, food industry, government, civil society, academics and research funders. Each stakeholder appraised six types of research options including; ecological nutrition, community nutrition interventions, nutritional epidemiology, behavioural nutrition, clinical/therapeutic nutrition and molecular nutrition on how they could best address malnutrition in Uganda. The criteria used by the interviewees to appraise the research options were categorised by the research team into five types, namely: cost effectiveness, practical feasibility, impact, social acceptability and research efficacy. Data were captured using the ‘Multi Criteria Mapper’ software and analysed using the ‘MCM Analyst’ software.

The most prioritised nutrition research options intended to improve nutrition status in Uganda were firstly applied community nutrition, secondly behavioural nutrition and thirdly ecological nutrition. Applied community nutrition was regarded as low cost and responsive to community problems. Behavioural nutrition was considered to be highly acceptable to communities and the country has the necessary expertise for its implementation. Ecological nutrition was considered to be in line with the countries’ development priorities in agriculture and environment. Molecular nutrition research was regarded as very costly to implement, had ethical dilemmas and was therefore the least prioritised.

The research options considered most appropriate towards improving nutrition status in Uganda were community nutrition intervention and behavioural nutrition. Molecular nutrition was considered the least appropriate research option owing to costs and ethical dilemmas. Stakeholders should consider supporting community and behavioural nutrition research interventions in Uganda.

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