Case study 1: Dissemination of research findings to different audiences

Background: Implementation research (IR) frequently generates large volumes of data that require organization, summarizing and visualization in order that they can be used for various kinds of communication and advocacy for different purposes and/or audiences. To help people understand and interpret the significance of specific data, it is frequently transformed from raw numbers and presented in various visual formats. The method you choose to visualize data can emphasize specific characteristics of a given data set, and so care must be taken to choose an objective approach that meets your goal and the needs of a specific audience, and which does not compromise the integrity of the data itself or present a biased perspective. The choice of how to present the data should depend on simplicity and interpretability because stakeholders need to understand the information provided and to be able to interpret it correctly.

The following example illustrates how the target audience dictates the data visualization approach. The same data from a survey to assess community drug distributors’ (CDD) performance in the provision of integrated community case management, using malaria rapid diagnostic test kits, is presented in different formats for the various priority audiences. Performance data was stratified by sex, age and education level. The table format is appropriate for a scientific audience; the bar graph for lay literate audiences (e.g. policy-makers and project implementers), while the diagram may be used for illiterate audiences at community level.

Conclusion: Large volumes of data can be organized and summarized as figures, tables or diagrams/graphics and used as varied communication tools.

Lessons: The presentation of findings should be carefully considered to avoid potential misinterpretations that could lead to inappropriate conclusions and/or responses. The choice of format should be simple, clear and appealing to the target audience.

Source: Orji BC, et al. Community health workers provide integrated community case management using malaria rapid diagnostic test kits. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. (2016); 13(4):875–879.