Case Studies of Health Interventions that were Unsuccessful (Ongoing)

Posted On 2021-03-04 14:21:10

This series on “Case Studies of Health Interventions that were Unsuccessful” is edited by Dr. Mellissa Withers from Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California (USA) and Dr. Judith McCool from University of Auckland (New Zealand).

Mellissa Withers, PhD, MHS
University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Mellissa Withers is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine. She is based at the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health. She is also the Director of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities’ Global Health Program. She earned a PhD from the Department of Community Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with a minor in cultural anthropology. She also holds a Master’s in Health Sciences from the Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a BA in international development from UC Berkeley. Her primary research interests lie in community participatory research, mental health, gender-based violence, and global sexual and reproductive health. She teaches classes for undergraduate and graduate students, including introduction to global health, global health ethics, global health leadership, and case studies in global health. Dr Withers is the editor of two books: Global Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Across the Lifecourse, and Global Health Leadership: Case Studies from the Asia-Pacific. She has also published more than 50 scientific articles and serves on the editorial boards of six international global health journals.

Judith McCool, BA, MPH, PhD
Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Science, University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

Dr Judith McCool is an Associate Professor and Acting Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Population Health, University of Auckland. Judith has developed and delivers postgraduate courses in global health for the Master of Public Health, Master of Health Leadership and the undergraduate medical program. Judith and colleagues established the Global Health Group at the University of Auckland, a network of academics and practitioners working in global health, with a focus on the Asia Pacific Rim region. She has received multiple national and international research grants for work tobacco control, mHealth, hearing and eye health, regional NCD monitoring and maternal health. Judith’s specific research interests lies in understanding the role of media, including social and digital media as communication tools for social and behavior change. Although based in Auckland, New Zealand, Judith has established long-term partnerships with organizations across the Pacific Islands region from government and NGOs contributing the NCD prevention through implementation research, digital health and capacity development.

Overview of this special series:

Publications about health-related interventions that did not succeed in achieving their objectives are rare. Yet, these examples provide an important opportunity for students to use critical thinking skills to analyze why interventions might fail. Considering all of the potential program implementation challenges in real-world settings can help students to develop skills relating to program design and evaluation, as well as reflect on the steps necessary to achieve success.

With the growth in philanthropic funding for innovative solutions and “out of the box” ideas that have the potential to accelerate progress, comes the proliferation of pilots and projects. Reflecting on what worked well – and what didn’t, can be a valuable process leading to constructive changes in design and implementation. The objective of compiling these case studies is to shed light on the complexity of implementation science and how to build on these lessons to inform future programs and policies.

There is no greater teacher than failure. In fact, sometimes you can learn more from failure than from success. This series will be a resource for classes relating to health. We intend for the chapters to be used as tools in the classroom to spark discussion. The cases will emphasize the practical lessons learned (timing, investment, implementation), as well as assumptions that underpinned the interventions. Chapters will be about 1,500-2,500 words and will include an introduction to the intervention, followed by prompts to help guide classroom discussions on the results and reasons for the lack of success. For example, like “Who was instigator of the initiative?” Who was missing from the consultation process? Was the methodology flawed? What were the potential challenges of the program in terms of context or population? Did concurrent events happening globally or locally affect the outcome? How might lack of community engagement or cultural sensitivity have played a role in its lack of success?” We interested in reflections on fundamental issues of data sovereignty, ethics, (de)colonization and accountability as well as how ‘success’ is assessed.

Submission Deadline: December 1st, 2021.
Publication Date: First half of 2022.

The special series “Case Studies of Health Interventions that were Unsuccessful” was commissioned by the editorial office, Journal of Public Health and Emergency without any funding or sponsorship. Mellissa Withers and Judith McCool are serving as the unpaid Guest Editors for the special series.