BACKGROUND: Non-communicable diseases contribute to 62% of total deaths in India; of concern are the preventable premature deaths, which account for a staggering 48% of mortality. The objective of this study was to establish a consensus research agenda for non-communicable disease prevention and control that has the potential to impact polices, programmes and healthcare delivery in India.
METHODS: To develop a non-communicable disease research agenda, we engaged our community collaborative board and scientific advisory group in a three-step process using two web-based surveys and one in-person meeting. First, the Delphi methodology was used to generate topics. Second, these ideas were deliberated upon during the in-person meeting, leading to the prioritisation of 23 research questions, which were subjected to Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat analysis by the stakeholders using the Snow Card methodology with the scientific advisory group and community collaborative board. This step resulted in the identification of 15 low effort, high impact priority research questions for various health outcomes across research disciplines based on discussion with the larger group to reach consensus. Finally, the second web-based survey resulted in the identification of 15 key priority research questions by all stakeholders as being the most important using a linear mixed effect regression model.
RESULTS: The final set of 15 priority research questions focused on interventions at the individual, community, systems and policy levels. Research questions focused on identifying interventions that strengthen healthcare systems and healthcare delivery, including models of care and improved access to non-communicable disease screening, diagnosis and treatment, determining the impact of government policies, assessing the effectiveness of prevention programmes (e.g. tobacco, environmental improvements), and testing research tools and resources to monitor non-communicable diseases at the population level.
CONCLUSION: To produce the evidence base for selecting and implementing non-communicable disease programmes and policies in India, investments are needed. These investments should be guided by a national research agenda for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in India. Our findings could form the backbone of a national research agenda for non-communicable diseases in India that could be refined and then adopted by government agencies, the private sector, non-governmental and community-based organisations.