In recognition of the lack of resources for clinical researchers in lower income countries, the University of Oxford developed Global Health Trials (GHT) ; digital technology brings open access tools, peer-reviewed eLearning, an audited Professional Membership Scheme and discussion areas to all levels of clinical research study staff worldwide. In addition, GHT supports members to hold regional meetings or skills-sharing workshops to address local concerns.

Research in other resource-limited settings has suggested that addressing technical competence, trial-related training, knowledge sharing and experience exchange for clinical research investigators, are key factors which would enable an increase in their own confidence and motivation  GHT's eLearning courses are knowledge-based resources designed as flexible, accessible, satisfactory and cost-effective, while its Professional Membership Scheme is designed to help staff build a portfolio that will develop with their careers and learning through different jobs and roles.However, it is not known if enhancing GHT's offerings through local facilitation of the material, or otherwise, would improve the learning and development process or the use of the Professional Membership Scheme.

This project aims to address this gap by developing, in collaboration with selected support staff such as field workers, research nurse/ coordinators, data managers and/or laboratory staff and their line managers, a flexible, sustainable, blended-learning programme for academic and/or public health clinical research staff by enhancing current GHT online content. Participants will be guided to help design a programme that will be relevant to them but that may also be adapted for use by similar personnel. The programme is likely to include facilitated group eLearning sessions, mentoring/job shadows, guidance in accessing extra resources (SA content on GHT webpages), and an annual GHT skills-sharing workshop/meeting. This formative stage will involve individual semi-structured interviews with line managers and focus group discussions (FGD) with approximately 50 staff from various research groups. We will also quantitatively measure the participants' baseline clinical research competency scores using an existing GHT online assessment tool. The participants will then be supported through a personalised blended-learning programme where we expect a process of knowledge transfer and skills improvement over an approximately 8-month period.

The project will qualitatively assess the impact of the programme in terms of access to learning and career development opportunities (including gaps in clinical research knowledge), and acceptability by the participants; reflections on the programme will be elicited through end of project semi-structured interviews for line managers and FGDs with staff. Each staff member will also be given feedback on their post-programme competency assessment and the mean change from baseline of the whole cohort of participants will be measured. 

 

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