Table 1

Illustrative humanitarian health research questions

Type of researchIllustrative research questions
  • How do we protect and promote the rights of research participants in humanitarian crises?

  • What ethical guidelines and IRB procedures should be adopted? Should they differ from ethical guidelines in stable settings?38

  • How should research methodologies be adapted for humanitarian crises? What new methodological approaches are needed for humanitarian research?

  • What are the most effective methodological approaches for evaluating a new health intervention (eg, a new vaccine) in a humanitarian crisis?

  • What is the most effective way to identify the needs of the population affected by a disaster?22

Descriptive epidemiology
  • What are the causes, spreading patterns and risk factors for (a specific disease or health condition) in humanitarian crises?

  • What are the stressors faced by populations in humanitarian settings?25

  • What is the additional burden of neonatal mortality in different emergency situations (eg, conflict, acute vs protracted, natural disaster)?23

  • How can public health information systems be better leveraged in humanitarian settings for determination of mortality and morbidity?13 14

  • What new health interventions (eg, treatments, vaccines, technologies, etc.) are needed for humanitarian crises?

  • Develop and validate strategies to identify preterm babies at the community level by CHWs and family members.23

Intervention research
  • What are the most effective mental health and psychosocial interventions for conflict-affected children?39

  • How effective is (a specific evidence-based health intervention) in a humanitarian setting?

  • What are the most effective interventions to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality, and improve well-being after a disaster or in other humanitarian emergencies?22

  • What are the effects of breast feeding promotion interventions, including integrated breast feeding, on breast feeding rates and duration after a disaster or in other humanitarian emergencies?22

Implementation research
  • How can evidence-based health interventions developed in stable settings best be delivered or implemented in humanitarian crises?

  • What are the most effective ways to culturally adapt existing mental health and psychosocial support interventions for use after a disaster or in other humanitarian emergencies?22

Health system research
  • How can the quality of health services in humanitarian settings be improved and sustained?

  • What attributes favour an adaptive, responsive and resilient healthcare system?

  • What approaches do people affected by humanitarian crises adopt to successfully gain access to health services?

  • How to get the right balance between emergency service delivery and long-term systems strengthening?30

  • What healthcare delivery models work best in humanitarian contexts? And what kind of actors can best implement such models and deliver the best results?30

  • Questions from previously published research agendas or literature reviews include references to the source publication.

  • CHW, community health worker; IRB, Institutional Review Board.