In developing countries the ability to conduct locally-relevant health research and high quality education are key tools in the fight against poverty. The objective of our study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel UK accredited, learner-designed research skills course delivered in a teaching hospital in Ghana.
Study participants were 15 mixed speciality health professionals from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana. Effectiveness measures included process, content and outcome indicators to evaluate changes in learners' confidence and competence in research, and assessment of the impact of the course on changing research-related thinking and behaviour. Results were verified using two independent methods.
14/15 learners gained research competence assessed against UK Quality Assurance Agency criteria. After the course there was a 36% increase in the groups' positive responses to statements concerning confidence in research-related attitudes, intentions and actions. The greatest improvement (45% increase) was in learners' actions, which focused on strengthening institutional research capacity. 79% of paired before/after responses indicated positive changes in individual learners' research-related attitudes (n = 53), 81% in intention (n = 52) and 85% in action (n = 52). The course had increased learners' confidence to start and manage research, and enhanced life-long skills such as reflective practice and self-confidence. Doing their own research within the work environment, reflecting on personal research experiences and utilising peer support and pooled knowledge were critical elements that promoted learning.
Learners in Ghana were able to design and undertake a novel course that developed individual and institutional research capacity and met international standards. Learning by doing and a supportive peer community at work were critical elements in promoting learning in this environment where tutors were scarce. Our study provides a model for delivering and evaluating innovative educational interventions in developing countries to assess whether they meet external quality criteria and achieve their objectives.