Implementation of Online Research Training and Mentorship for Sub-Saharan African Family Physicians.


McGuire CM(1)(2)(3), Fatusin BB(4), Kodicherla H(5), Yakubu K(6)(7)(8), Ameh P(9), van Waes A(10), Rhoad E(5), Jack BW(1)(2)(3), Scott NA(11).
Author information:
(1)Department of Family Medicine, Boston University, Boston, USA.
(2)Family Medicine Specialty Training Program, Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance, Leribe, Lesotho.
(3)Institute for Health System Innovation and Policy, Boston University, Boston, USA.
(4)Family Medicine Department, Federal Medical Centre, Gusau, Nigeria.
(5)Boston University School of Public Health, Boston University, Boston, USA.
(6)Department of Family Medicine, University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria.
(7)Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
(8)The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia.
(9)Department of Family Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, Nigeria.
(10)Boston University Department of Health Sciences, Boston University, Boston, USA.
(11)Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Global Health, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA.


BACKGROUND: To improve the delivery and reach of primary health care, a robust scientific foundation driven by research is needed. However, few family physicians conduct research, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Early-career and trainee family physicians are a key part of the primary care research pipeline and have an expressed need for research training and mentorship. OBJECTIVE: AfriWon Research Collaborative (ARC) was an online research training and mentorship pilot program whose objective was to increase research activity among participants from AfriWon Renaissance, the family physician young doctors' movement of sub-Saharan Africa. METHODS: ARC utilized a 10-module online curriculum, supported by peer and faculty e-mentorship, to guide participants through writing a research protocol. The feasibility, acceptability, and scalability of this program was evaluated via a mixed-methods RE-AIM-guided process evaluation using descriptive statistics and inductive/deductive thematic analysis. FINDINGS: The pilot reached participants from Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone and was adopted by mentors from 11 countries across three continents. Four of the 10 pilot participants completed a full research protocol by the end of the six-month core program. Seven out of the 10 participants, and nine out of the 15 mentors, planned to continue their mentorship relationships beyond the core program. The program helped instill a positive research culture in active participants. Some participants' and mentors' engagement with the ARC program was limited by confusion over mentorship structure and role, poor network connectivity, and personal life challenges. CONCLUSIONS: Online research training and mentorship for trainee and early-career family physicians in sub-Saharan Africa is feasible and acceptable to participants and mentors. Similar programs must pay careful attention to mentorship training and provide a flexible yet clearly organized structure for mentee-mentor engagement. Additional work is needed to determine optimal implementation strategies and ability to scale.