Revista de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 0124-0064
GRANADA, Alberto et al. Does the lack of availability of information represent a bottleneck for research and evaluation in health policy?. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2005, vol.7, n.2, pp. 201-214. ISSN 0124-0064. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0124-00642005000200008.
OBJECTIVES: This article describes the difficulties encountered in obtaining information about health services, sanitation and health insurance coverage supply, use and coverage regarding a sample of Colombian municipalities during 1991-2000. The availability of information is also analysed in terms of decentralisation and municipal development. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of a random stratified sample of 495 Colombian municipalities; information regarding the variables of interest was requested at municipal and departmental level and from national sources. A scale was constructed for measuring the availability of information at local level. Non-parametric statistics were used for testing differences in availability of information in terms of certification and municipal category. RESULTS: Applying the scale revealed 51% availability of data regarding health service supply, 39% for data regarding service use and 45% for both types of information (supply and demand taken together). No information was available in 32% of the municipalities. Information was more readily available in non-certified and less developed municipalities. CONCLUSIONS: Study findings provided indirect evidence of difficulty in obtaining information regarding health systems at both municipal and departmental levels; this represents an important obstacle for health system management and evaluating performance, as well as for research and widening knowledge (and availability to such knowledge) in this area.
Keywords : Decentralisation; information system; health service indicators; Colombia.