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Identifying actions to foster cross-disciplinary global health research: a mixed-methods qualitative case study of the IMPALA programme on lung health and tuberculosis in Africa

Ding, Yan ORCID:, Tomeny, Ewan ORCID: and Bates, Imelda ORCID: (2022) 'Identifying actions to foster cross-disciplinary global health research: a mixed-methods qualitative case study of the IMPALA programme on lung health and tuberculosis in Africa'. BMJ Open, Vol 12, Issue 3, e058126.

25. Yan Ding 2022_BMJ Open_fostering cross-disciplinary global heatlh research.pdf - Published Version
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To identify actions for fostering cross-disciplinary research (CDR) skills and collaborations in global health, and to produce recommendations for improving the design, implementation and management of cross-disciplinary global health research programmes.

Using a North–South global health research programme as a case study—and following an adapted framework—we conducted qualitative research using document reviews, semi-structured interviews (purposive sampling) and participatory observation. We used baseline survey findings to identify potential interviewees and tailor interview guides.

Our case study was a 4.5-year (2017–2021) programme, namely, the International Multidisciplinary Programme to Address Lung Health and Tuberculosis in Africa (IMPALA). Led by a UK research institute, IMPALA spanned 22 partner organisations from 13 countries (10 in sub-Saharan Africa), and involved five research discipline groups: clinical science, social science, health systems, health economics and policy/research capacity.

Thirty-one IMPALA members were interviewed (July 2018–November 2019), with interviewees evenly split by gender (16 female and 15 male) and by Global North/South institution (15 non-African and 16 African). Twenty-five (81%) were researchers, comprising 18 senior researchers (professors, readers, associate professors and senior lecturers) and seven early career researchers (assistant professors, lecturers, research fellows, postdocs, research assistants and PhD students). Twenty-four programme events were observed (September 2018–April 2020) and 49 documents were reviewed (December 2017–April 2020). All 66 IMPALA staff were sent the baseline survey, receiving 51 responses (43/56 researchers and 8/10 non-researchers).

Fourteen themes emerged, which suggested that CDR—while valued by many—is not universally understood, and the time it requires is often underestimated. We found that fostering CDR and managing tensions needs planning and continuous discussions and interactions. A shared vision with explicitly agreed goals and roles and active management of cross-disciplinary activities is essential.

Active planning, implementation and management of cross-disciplinary activities are essential for the success of cross-disciplinary global health research and should be separate from the primary research activities.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > Health Administration and Organization > WA 530 International health administration
WF Respiratory System > WF 20 Research (General)
WF Respiratory System > Tuberculosis > WF 200 Tuberculosis (General)
WF Respiratory System > Lungs > WF 600 Lungs
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Debbie Jenkins
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2022 12:30
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2022 12:30


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