Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Setting priorities for zinc-related health research to reduce children’s disease burden worldwide: an application of the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative’s research priority-setting method

Kenneth H Browna1 c1, Sonja Y Hessa1, Erick Boya2, Rosalind S Gibsona3, Susan Hortona4, Saskia J Osendarpa5, Fernando Semperteguia6, Roger Shrimptona7 and Igor Rudana8a9

a1 Program in International and Community Nutrition, Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

a2 The Micronutrient Initiative, Ottawa, Canada

a3 Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Otago, New Zealand

a4 Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada

a5 Unilever Food and Health Research Institute, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands

a6 Medical School, Universidad Central, Quito, Ecuador

a7 Institute of Child Health, London, UK

a8 Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh, UK

a9 Croatian Centre for Global Health, University of Split Medical School, Split, Croatia


Objective To make the best use of limited resources for supporting health-related research to reduce child mortality, it is necessary to apply a suitable method to rank competing research options. The Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) developed a new methodology for setting health research priorities. To broaden experience with this priority-setting technique, we applied the method to rank possible research priorities concerning the control of Zn deficiency. Although Zn deficiency is not generally recognized as a direct cause of child mortality, recent research indicates that it predisposes children to an increased incidence and severity of several of the major direct causes of morbidity and mortality.

Design Leading experts in the field of Zn research in child health were identified and invited to participate in a technical working group (TWG) to establish research priorities. The individuals were chosen to represent a wide range of expertise in Zn nutrition. The seven TWG members submitted a total of ninety research options, which were then consolidated into a final list of thirty-one research options categorized by the type of resulting intervention.

Results The identified priorities were dominated by research investment options targeting Zn supplementation, and were followed by research on Zn fortification, general aspects of Zn nutrition, dietary modification and other new interventions.

Conclusions In general, research options that aim to improve the efficiency of an already existing intervention strategy received higher priority scores. Challenges identified during the implementation of the methodology and suggestions to modify the priority-setting procedures are discussed.

(Received June 08 2007)

(Accepted February 20 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email