Background & objective: Priority setting in health research is a dynamic process. Different organizations and institutes have been working in the field of research priority setting for many years. In 1999 the Global Forum for Health Research presented a research priority setting tool called the Combined Approach Matrix or CAM. Since its development, the CAM has been successfully applied to set research priorities for diseases, conditions and programmes at global, regional and national levels. This paper briefly explains the CAM methodology and how it could be applied in different settings, giving examples and describing challenges encountered in the process of setting research priorities and providing recommendations for further work in this field.
Methods: The construct and design of the CAM is explained along with different steps needed, including planning and organization of a priority-setting exercise and how it could be applied in different settings.
Results: The application of the CAM are described by using three examples. The first concerns setting research priorities for a global programme, the second describes application at the country level and the third setting research priorities for diseases.
Interpretation & conclusion: Effective application of the CAM in different and diverse environments proves its utility as a tool for setting research priorities. Potential challenges encountered in the process of research priority setting are discussed and some recommendations for further work in this field are provided.