July 3, 2012
Research findings on foreign aid retracted
Mistakes were made in an essay on development aid for health.
Stanford researchers Rajaie Batniji and Eran Bendavid have retracted research findings published May 8 in the journal PLoS Medicine.
Their findings, presented in the essay, "Does development assistance for health really displace government health spending? Reassessing the evidence," contained errors in statistical model choice and reporting.
The essay was featured in a Stanford University news release issued May 8 titled "Stanford study shows no evidence that international health aid is wasted" and was the subject for a post on the medical school blog, Scope, on May 9. A version of the release also was published on May 21 in the print edition of Inside Stanford Medicine and on the university and medical school websites.
The study reanalyzed data used by University of Washington researchers to examine whether development assistance for health leads to displacement of public health spending by recipient governments.
The researchers erroneously concluded that there was no significant displacement of foreign aid.
Batniji is a physician at Stanford Hospital & Clinics and an affiliated scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at the university’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Bendavid is an assistant professor of medicine and an affiliate of FSI’s Stanford Health Policy.
When the researchers discovered their mistake, they informed editors at PLoS Medicine and moved to correct the record. The editors agreed with the need for the retraction and accepted the authors’ explanation of their error. The retraction, posted in late June, can be read here.