Expanding capacity for operational research: training of health workers in Peru
F.A. Canchihuaman1, M. Micek2, K. Gimbel-Sherr2, S. Gimbel-Sherr2, J. Zunt2, P.J. Garcia1, E. Gotuzzo1
1Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru, 2University of Washington, Seattle, United States
Background: A top agenda priority of many international
organizations is improving the local capacity in developing countries to
conduct Operation Research (OR). Creating a critical mass of professionals
capable of conducting and collaborating on OR is challenging, as is teaching
the skills required and maximizing the impact of OR training programs.
Methods: We developed a model for training of health care
workers in OR with focus on HIV and tuberculosis at the Universidad Peruana
Cayetano Heredia in Peru.
The educational approach included lectures, discussions, group-work and
field-work and provided comprehensive information about the specific objectives of OR. We invited both health professionals working in programmatic
activities and researchers.
Results: The training course (5 days), the first formal
courses in OR in Peru, allowed participants to pool their expertise in order to
identify and prioritize programmatic problems, propose solutions and use
suitable OR methodologies. The level of knowledge among participants improved
from 2.1 before the course to 4.2 after the course (scale 1-5) (p< 0.001).
Skills to design basic OR proposals improved from 2.1 to 4.3 (scale 1-5) (p<
0.001). Most participants (97%) found the course useful for their job needs and
reported they would recommend participation to their colleagues. Participants
developed short research proposals, most of which were not executed due to an
absence of political commitment, resources, time due to work demands, and
ongoing support after finishing the course.
Conclusions: A training approach that combines practical and
theoretical sessions and includes both programmatic and research health
professionals promotes multidisciplinary team-work and improves the
understanding of OR. Identifying priority areas in HIV/TB programs prior to the
course, allocating small funds, and providing continuing support and mentoring
after the course may improve the realization of OR projects. In the long term,
institutionalizing the OR training may help to improve local OR capacity.
Back to the Programme-at-a-Glance