Essential Competencies in Global Health Research for Medical Trainees: A Narrative Review

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Introduction: Participation in short-term educational experiences in global health (STEGHs) among medical trainees is increasingly accompanied by interest in conducting research while abroad. Because formal training in both global health and research methods is currently under-represented in most medical curricula, trainees are often unfamiliar with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to design and conduct research successfully. This narrative review identifies essential global health research competencies for medical trainees engaged in STEGHs.

Methods: The authors searched the literature using the terms global health, competency, research, research methods/process/training, scholarly project, medical student, and medical education/education. Because articles directly addressing global health research competencies for medical trainees were limited, the authors additionally drew on the broader literature addressing general research competencies and global health competencies.

Findings: Articles yielded by the literature search, combined with established guidelines in research ethics and global health ethics, were used to identify six core domains and twenty discrete competencies fundamental to global health research at a level appropriate for medical trainees enrolled in STEGHs. Consideration was given to diverse research modalities, varying levels of training, and the availability of mentoring and on-site support.

Discussion: Research may provide important benefits to medical trainees and host partners. These competencies provide a starting point; however, circumstances at any host site may necessitate additional competencies specific to that setting. These competencies are also limited by the methodology employed in their development and the need for additional perspectives from host partners.

Conclusions: The competencies identified outline basic knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for medical trainees to conduct limited global health research while participating in STEGHS. They may also be used as a basis for curriculum development, assessment, and research capacity development.



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