Research and development strategy

Towards a knowledge organization

It is the clearly stated ambition of Belgian Red Cross-Flanders to continue evolving into a knowledge organization. Among other things, this means that as much as possible of what we do must be based on scientific data. This is also set out in our strategic plan Pledge 2015.

In 2011, we laid the foundations for the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders research and development strategy. In 2012, we further developed that strategy and put it into practice.

Goal of the research and development strategy

Our research and development strategy has a number of objectives:

Carry out R&D in our core activities

Generally speaking, our core activities have been the subject of minimal research, probably because they take place outside hospitals. Scientifically-based information, advice and support offer significant added value for our work. Our R&D activities enable us to validate new developments relating to our operational activities in an independent way. By setting up a research department for positioning and advocacy purposes, we can make our voice heard more in the social debate and are better placed to issue warnings.

We do not do research for research’s sake: making our actions more efficient and effective is always the ultimate aim. For as well as being a knowledge organization, we remain first and foremost an operational organization. Therein lies the strength of our research and development strategy: our activities in the field enhance our knowledge and vice versa.

Support fundraising

Companies and individuals are becoming increasingly discerning in the good causes they choose to support. Scientific research into the efficacy of our assistance is vital to demonstrate that the resources we acquire through fundraising are used as effectively as possible.

Support the image of the Red Cross as a benchmark

By focusing heavily on research and development, we aim to act as a ‘magnet organization’ and as a pioneer in our sector.

Evidence-based practice

We use an evidence-based methodology to ensure that our operations and activities are scientifically underpinned. Evidence-based practice is a method for substantiating practical actions using the best available evidence. Scientific studies form the basis for this evidence. This is further complemented by practical experience, the expertise of specialists in the relevant field, and the preferences and interests of the target group.

The evidence-based methodology plays an important role in bridging the gulf between science and practice: it is helpful in making decisions on specific practice-related issues concerning the effect of certain activities or interventions.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Practice (CEBaP) of Belgian Red Cross-Flanders specializes in this methodology and engages in researching and scientifically substantiating techniques and practices for all Red Cross fields of activity on a daily basis.

This is the method by which CEBaP gives advice and support for the implementation of policy. By developing codes of practice based on information underpinned by scientific research, Belgian Red Cross-Flanders is able to provide decisive messages and create uniformity between the various activities of the Red Cross.

Four fields of research

Our research strategy is based on four fields of research in which research or expertise is already present. Naturally, there is still scope for other necessary ad hoc research alongside these priority areas.

Within the Blood Service, research is primarily conducted into platelets and donors. For Humanitarian Services, the focus is on first aid and water & sanitation.

The underlying theme with all these research areas is pre-hospital care. This is one of Belgian Red Cross-Flanders’ core activities and has been little studied hitherto.

Three levels of research

Within the above-mentioned fields, we carry out research at three different levels. It is this layered approach which gives our research strategy its strength.

Type A research is geared towards operational and quality improvements: doing what we have to do more effectively.

Type B research is development work. Here we use existing knowledge to develop or test out new processes for our core activities.

Type C comprises basic and translational research. Basic research entails amassing as much knowledge as possible about core principles. Translational research also involves generating new knowledge but it is primarily geared towards a specific or practical goal.

Research and studies

As part of this research and development strategy, the Blood Service carried out various studies and research in 2012.

In the field of first aid, Humanitarian Services contributed to research into first aid for (and prevention of) sports injuries.

Between 2009 and 2011 we developed AFAM, a package of guidelines and teaching materials for first aid courses, tailored to the African context (Interne link naar Stimulans voor zelfredzaamheid – AFAM).

As part of  a doctorate, situations requiring first aid were simulated in order to study the helping behavior of first-aiders. This study was begun in September 2009 and completed in the spring of 2011.

Within the ‘water and sanitation’ field, there remain many opportunities for further research. For example, work is currently under way on a Master’s thesis at KU Leuven bringing together scientific evidence for the amount of drinking water required during a disaster.

Related items:
Collaboration within the Red Cross
More effective and efficient event first aid
ISO certification for emergency reception center
Blood Service centralization