Building postgraduate capacity in medical and public health research in Vietnam: An in-service training model

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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In Vietnam, needs to update medical and public health research capacity, but advanced training in research methodology in universities is still very limited. The first university-certified research training course aimed at physicians was conducted in Ho Chi Minh City in 2000. This paper describes the processes, outcomes and lessons learned from the project, to enable the training course to be repeated to increase research capacity among health professionals in Vietnam and other developing countries. Based on needs assessment, the 9-month, part-time course offered advanced training in practical research skills, including epidemiology, biostatistics and qualitative research methods. Thirty-seven trainees (teaching staff, interns and clinicians) completed the course, which included four group research projects. With active support from university management, the course was rigorous and participation was excellent. Trainees's knowledge of research methodologies increased, and their self-evaluation of achievement of the training objectives was high. The total score of the epidemiology and biostatistics test improved from 56% (median) in the pre-course test to 83% in the post-course test. The group research project results were disseminated through a conference and publication in peer-reviewed journals. The course has since been repeated twice as a 1-month intensive course to accommodate trainees from distant regions. This type of rigorous in-service research training at universities and teaching hospitals in developing countries appears to be an effective, sustainable approach. It also holds promise for producing research data that are responsive to a country's own needs and which are likely to be applied in health policy and practice. Further evaluation of the impact and cost of such models is indicated.