Why was RPAR developed?

The development of the RPAR as a monitoring tool coupled with community intervention arose from the frustration of the RPAR’s initatiors, Scott Burris and Zita Lazzarini. Based on many years of experience providing legal summaries of existing health law and policy, they saw at least three shortcomings of traditional legal research:

  • the lack of data on how laws and policies are actually implemented
  • the extended time usually required to complete research projects
  • the absence of any explicit response component to problems identified in the research. 

Advocates were spending years fighting for the adoption of formal policies, only to find again and again that nothing was being done to implement them.  At the same time, experience with interventions like needle exchange in the U.S. showed that important advances could be won in practice at the local level, even without change in state or national laws.  Indeed, local action typically was the catalyst for change in policy at higher levels. The RPAR explicitly focuses on how law is implemented, is intended to take nine months to a year to complete, and builds change from the bottom up.

Since its development under the auspices of the International Harm Reduction Development Program, RPAR has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (a three-city evaluation in the Former Soviet Union, and an assessment of IDU social risk associated with AIDS research participation in Thailand and China) and the Gates Foundation (evaluating the impact of sex worker collectives in empowering sex workers and reducing HIV in India). Preliminary results are available from sites in Poland and Thailand, and are summarized here.

Last Updated: February 2006