171726 Public Health Research Without Borders: Doctoral Students Conducting Health Research in Developing Countries

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mellissa H. Withers, MHS , Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Gabriel James Garcia, PhD, MA, MPH , Department of Health Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
Developing countries have the worst health conditions and lowest life expectancies in the world. Yet, public health research is often lacking due to the countries' limited financial resources and trained researchers. Privileged to live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it is important for U.S.-based public health researchers to go beyond their borders to help address the health problems in less affluent nations. Two doctoral students took on this challenge by conducting their dissertation research in two developing countries in Southeast Asia. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss these students' preparation, experiences, and challenges before and during their research.

Preparation for conducting research in developing countries involved searching and applying for funding, studying the appropriate language, finding contacts and building relationship with NGOs and/or institutions in the developing country, getting the necessary vaccinations, and applying to the Institutional Review Board. Both doctoral students collected quantitative and qualitative data. Some challenges in conducting research abroad include issues of cultural differences, confidentiality and informed consent, appropriate incentives, and personal involvement with community members.

Conducting research in developing countries can be fruitful and personally rewarding. However, students preparing to conduct research in international settings should be aware of the possible obstacles they may face. Some practical strategies to help students be successful abroad include being familiar with the country, language, culture, and community; developing partnerships early in research; planning activities ahead of time; and treating research colleagues and subjects with respect and dignity.

Learning Objectives:
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Those attending this session should be able to: -Identify possible obstacles to research in developing countries -Understand strategies to mitigate these barriers -become better prepared to conduct research abroad

Keywords: Research, Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I co-authored this presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.