Lessons learnt from the process of designing care coordination interventions through participatory action research in public healthcare networks of six Latin American countries

for Equity-LA II

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The participation of health professionals in designing interventions is considered vital to effective implementation, yet in areas such as clinical coordination is rarely promoted and evaluated. This study, part of Equity-LA II, aims to analyse the design process of interventions to improve clinical coordination, taking a participatory-action-research (PAR) approach, in healthcare networks of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. This participatory process was planned in four phases, led by a local steering committee (LSC): (1) dissemination of problem analysis results and creation of professionals’ platform, (2) selection of problems and intervention (3) intervention design and planning (4) adjustments after evaluation of first implementation stage. 

Methods: A descriptive qualitative study based on documentary analysis, using a topic guide, was conducted in each intervention network. Documents produced regarding the intervention design process were selected. Thematic content analysis was conducted, generating mixed categories taken from the topic guide and identified from data. Main categories were LSC characteristics, type of design process (phases, participants’ roles, methods) and associated difficulties, coordination problems and interventions selected.

Results: LSCs of similar composition (managers, professionals and researchers) were established, with increasing membership in Chile and high turnover in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. Following results dissemination and selection of problems and interventions (more participatory in Chile and Colombia: 200–479 participants), the interventions were designed and planned, resulting in three different types of processes: (1) short initial design with adjustments after first implementation stage, in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico; (2) longer, more participatory process, with multiple cycles of action/reflection and pilot tests, in Chile; (3) open-ended design for ongoing adaptation, in Argentina and Uruguay. Professionals’ time and the political cycle were the main barriers to participation. The clinical coordination problem selected was limited communication between primary and secondary care doctors. To address it, through discussions guided by context and feasibility criteria, interventions based on mutual feedback were selected.

 Conclusions: As expected in a flexible PAR process, its rollout differed across countries in participation and PAR cycles. Results show that PAR can help to design interventions adapted to context and offers lessons that can be applied in other contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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