oa African Journal of Health Professions Education - A pilot course for training-in-context in statistics and research methods : radiation oncology



Inadequate training of investigators in statistics and research methods in Africa contributes to having limited local evidence and infrastructure to support multi-centre international trials. Methods of teaching junior oncology professionals tend not to emphasise research discovery, or the roles of emotional engagement and social networking in facilitating effective and efficient learning. We developed a strategy for teaching research methods and statistics in-context, centred on a shared international and practical research project.

An African research network (AFRES) was created and members conducted a pilot clinical registry study to acquire real-time data over a 4-month period in 2011. Following study closure, a proto-course consisting of 7 modules, each orientated to a practical topic in study development, implementation and reporting was administered over 18 weeks to all eight AFRES members. A survey of participants was conducted to evaluate the impact of this training strategy.
This strictly voluntary project had 5 of 8 AFRES members engaged in the process. Within one year, we generated and submitted two manuscripts and two news items for publication. Participants reported an increased understanding of the principles of evidence-based practice, research methods and interest in pursuing future research initiatives.
A novel strategy to build international research infrastructure in Africa, grounded in a practical and relevant project, and which is collaborative and engaging, appears to be efficient and effective.


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