Our second week in Malawi has been characterized by a hands-on approach to the ongoing research capacity building we are doing together here at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN). Monday and Tuesday, we all rolled up our sleeves and worked through two days of research workshops with the faculty, some students and other invited stakeholders. Dr. Gertrude Mwalabu and a few of our other champions helped Dr. Pammla Petrucka and I lead the workshops using two research topics and their respective research teams as examples.
The first research team will carry out a program of research designed to better understand women’s community-based experiences in the year following surgical repair of an obstetrical fistula. The second team, led by Dr. Mwalabu, will carry out a program designed to understand the community-based experiences of young women and men (aged 19-24), as they work to meet their continuing health challenges related to HIV and HIV treatments, while also meeting the unique developmental challenges of young adulthood.
As the week progressed, Pammla and I split up, and each of us worked primarily with one of the research teams. KCN’s librarians, Kondwani and Patrick, supported the teams, and together each team worked to refine their research goals, objectives and research questions, while also identifying requirements for scoping reviews of the relevant published literature. As it turned out, each team identified two scoping reviews and two research studies that they planned to conduct together.
Using the grant format of the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, the teams developed the four grant outlines. Working together they also developed the on-line queries for the scoping reviews. All participants were actively engaged in decision-making regarding search terms and search parameters. And, as the on-line results of the queries came in, participants were able to see in real time how decisions regarding their search parameters influenced the quality and manageability of the resulting articles that were retrieved. As we worked through the grant proposals, participants saw how iterative the work was – as we worked back and forth to ensure that the research goals and objectives aligned perfectly with the research questions – and vice versa.
At the end of the week, one of the two groups declared its intention to continue work on its scoping reviews independently (i.e., without Pammla and I). The group members felt confident in applying their inclusion and exclusion data retrieval criteria, using the data extraction tool that they had developed. Dr. Petrucka and I are excited to review their progress with them next week.
Martha E. (Beth) Horsburgh, RN, PhD has provided academic nursing and research leadership in three Canadian provinces. Her scholarship is typified by practical community and health system partnerships designed to tackle recurrent health challenges faced by patients, families and communities in Canada and around the world.
Joining the Academics Without Borders family of volunteers has enabled Beth and her colleague Dr. Pammla Petrucka, to work alongside the nursing faculty at Kamazu College of Nursing, University of Malawi, to address local health challenges through sustainable research partnerships.