Original Research

Mixed-methods evaluation of family medicine research training and peer mentorship in Lesotho

Chelsea M. McGuire, Katherine Riffenburg, Sebaka Malope, Brian Jack, Christina P.C. Borba
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 12, No 1 | a2387 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v12i1.2387 | © 2020 Chelsea M. McGuire, Kaitlyn Riffenburg, Sebaka Malope, Brian Jack, Christina P.C. Borba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 March 2020 | Published: 19 October 2020

About the author(s)

Chelsea M. McGuire, Family Medicine Specialty Training Program, Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance, Leribe, Lesotho; and, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, United States of America; and, Center for Health System Design and Implementation, Institute for Health System Innovation and Policy, Boston University, Boston, United States
Katherine Riffenburg, Department of Global Health, School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, United States
Sebaka Malope, Family Medicine Specialty Training Program, Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance, Leribe, Lesotho; and, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, United States of America; and, Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance, Maseru, Lesotho
Brian Jack, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Boston University Boston, United States of America; and, Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance, Maseru, Lesotho; and, Center for Health System Design and Implementation, Institute for Health System Innovation and Policy, Boston University, Boston, United States
Christina P.C. Borba, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, United States


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Abstract

Background: Strengthening primary care research capacity is a priority globally. Family medicine training programmes in sub-Saharan Africa represent an important opportunity to build primary care research; however, they are often limited by insufficient research training and mentorship. Peers can be used to extend research mentorship capacity, but have not been evaluated in this context.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate one family medicine training programme’s research capacity building efforts through a blended research curriculum and peer mentorship.

Setting: Lesotho is a landlocked country within South Africa of approximately two million people. The Family Medicine Specialty Training Programme (FMSTP) is the only accredited postgraduate medical education programme in Lesotho.

Methods: This two-year mixed-methods evaluation used: (1) Likert-scale surveys measuring trainee research confidence, (2) written evaluations by trainees, peers, programme faculty and administrators and (3) in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Survey data were analysed using Friedman and sign tests. Interview and written data were analysed thematically via a mixed inductive-deductive approach using Cooke’s framework.

Results: Family Medicine Specialty Training Programme trainees (n = 8) experienced moderate increases in research confidence that were statistically significant. Skill-building occurred primarily via experiential learning. Research was grounded in trainees’ clinical practice and locally relevant. A positive research culture was created, promising for sustainability. We identified infrastructure gaps, including funding and protected time. Peer research mentorship supported trainees’ motivation and provided a safe space for questions.

Conclusion: The FMSTP research curriculum and peer mentorship programme were successful in positively impacting a number of Cooke’s research capacity domains. This evaluation identified improvements that are now being implemented.


Keywords

research training; peer mentorship; Lesotho; family medicine; primary health care

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