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Health research capacity building of health workers in fragile and conflict-affected settings: a scoping review of challenges, strengths, and recommendations

Authors
  • Mansour, Rania1, 2
  • Naal, Hady1
  • Kishawi, Tarek1
  • Achi, Nassim El1
  • Hneiny, Layal3
  • Saleh, Shadi1
  • 1 Global Health Institute, American University of Beirut, Beirut, 1107 2020, Lebanon , Beirut (Lebanon)
  • 2 St. George’s, University of London, London, UK , London (United Kingdom)
  • 3 American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon , Beirut (Lebanon)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Health Research Policy and Systems
Publisher
BioMed Central
Publication Date
May 22, 2021
Volume
19
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1186/s12961-021-00725-x
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

BackgroundFragile and conflict-affected settings (FCAS) have a strong need to improve the capacity of local health workers to conduct health research in order to improve health policy and health outcomes. Health research capacity building (HRCB) programmes are ideal to equip health workers with the needed skills and knowledge to design and lead health-related research initiatives. The study aimed to review the characteristics of HRCB studies in FCASs in order to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and to recommend future directions for the field.MethodsWe conducted a scoping review and searched four databases for peer-reviewed articles that reported an HRCB initiative targeting health workers in a FCAS and published after 2010. Commentaries and editorials, cross-sectional studies, presentations, and interventions that did not have a capacity building component were excluded. Data on bibliographies of the studies and HRCB interventions and their outcomes were extracted. A descriptive approach was used to report the data, and a thematic approach was used to analyse the qualitative data.ResultsOut of 8822 articles, a total of 20 were included based on the eligibility criteria. Most of the initiatives centred around topics of health research methodology (70%), targeted an individual-level capacity building angle (95%), and were delivered in university or hospital settings (75%). Ten themes were identified and grouped into three categories. Significant challenges revolved around the lack of local research culture, shortages in logistic capability, interpersonal difficulties, and limited assessment and evaluation of HRCB programmes. Strengths of HRCB interventions included being locally driven, incorporating interactive pedagogies, and promoting multidisciplinary and holistic training. Common recommendations covered by the studies included opportunities to improve the content, logistics, and overarching structural components of HRCB initiatives.ConclusionOur findings have important implications on health research policy and related capacity building efforts. Importantly, FCASs should prioritize (1) funding HRCB efforts, (2) strengthening equitable international, regional, and national partnerships, (3) delivering locally led HRCB programmes, (4) ensuring long-term evaluations and implementing programmes at multiple levels of the healthcare system, and (5) adopting engaging and interactive approaches.

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