Stakeholders perceptions and experiences regarding research at Makerere University College of Health Sciences
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The study purposed to explore the perceptions and experiences of key research stakeholders at Makerere College of Health Sciences (MaKCHS) and affiliate research institutions. Several research studies conducted at the college have impacted public health policies and healthcare, both locally and internationally; and have enhanced the global image of the University. Research involves various stakeholders whose perspectives of each other and the entire research process could pose challenges to research conduct. There is limited literature that empirically describes these perceptions, especially from a low and middle-income country setting. Methods: This was an exploratory cross-sectional study that employed a qualitative approach using in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in research. A total of twenty (20) interviews were held. All interviews except one (1) were audio-recorded and field notes were taken. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically. Results: The participants shared a consensus about the value of research at MakCHS in contributing to healthcare, knowledge generation, improved institutional image, and capacity building. Several factors were perceived to hinder good inter-stakeholder relationships and communication including non-fulfillment of promises by researchers to the participants; risks/ social harm in research participation; inadequate attention to cultural briefs; unfairness in data ownership, sample storage and access; and inequitable opportunities in collaborative studies; and lack of respect of junior researchers by the senior ones. The stakeholders perceived that the overall conduct of research is hindered by lack of a set national research agenda; limited capacity of RECs; limited time allocated to research; bureaucratic REC processes and procedures; poor capacity-building efforts; financial constraints; inadequate mentorship; and poor results dissemination and uptake. Conclusion: Overall, stakeholders had a positive attitude towards research at Makerere University and affiliate institutions. However, several challenges to research implementation and uptake were identified. A lot of research has been conducted over the years but for a number of reasons, very little of this knowledge has been translated into policy and practice. There is need for the creation of a research enabling environment through development of policies that protect the interest of the institution and faculty for stronger bargaining power, investment of more resources in improving and modernizing research infrastructure, an emphasis on skills development and continuing professional development activities for faculty, and investment in strong and effective mentorship programs.