Increasing Chronic Disease Research Capacity in Guatemala Through a Mentoring Program

Joaquin Barnoya, Jose C. Monzon, Graham A. Colditz

Abstract


OBJECTIVE: The Chronic Disease Research Fellowship Program (RFP) aims to build the research capacity of recent medical graduates to support the development of chronic disease control strategies.

SETTING: Guatemala is undergoing an epidemiologic transition. However, given the way universities and the health care system are structured, it lacks an environment that fosters research careers and generates the required knowledge to implement sound public health policies and clinical strategies. The RFP was implemented at the Cardiovascular Unit of Guatemala.

INTERVENTION: This 4-year Program recruited two one-year fellows and provided funding to define a research topic, write a protocol and implement the research. Strong emphasis is placed on developing skills in knowledge translation and exchange to bridge the “know–do” gap. Close mentoring relationships between the Principal Investigator and former and current fellows are fostered through the Program.

OUTCOMES: The mentoring Program has generated strategic data to support the implementation of sound chronic disease control strategies, mainly related to tobacco control. Results have been presented nationally and internationally. Research training has included principles of biostatistics and epidemiology, and a journal club. The Program is increasingly generating interest among medical graduates to pursue further research training abroad and is building local research capacity. Fellows and research assistants have created a research network in Guatemala and abroad. The main obstacle the Program faces is ensuring long-term sustainability.

CONCLUSIONS: A mentoring program can lead to an increase in research interest and capacity in a low-income country with little research infrastructure.


Keywords


Developing countries; chronic disease; capacity building

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.104.3946