WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

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Benefits and Barriers of Research Collaboration with Physiotherapy Faculty from the United States and Beyond, an Example from Rwanda
Vyvienne Roseline Piwai M'kumbuzi, Julia Chevan

Last modified: 2012-02-06


Purpose:  The purpose of this presentation is to describe recent shared research efforts between physiotherapy faculty from the United States and academic faculty at a physiotherapy program in Rwanda.  In describing these research projects we demonstrate the benefits of collaboration, describe curricular implications, explore the barriers encountered, and provide suggestions for successful research partnerships.  This session will also serve as a springboard and forum for physiotherapists interested in becoming more active in the research arena and who are seeking similarly minded colleagues for collaborative efforts.

 Relevance:  Scholarly work and research are universally considered activities of physiotherapy faculty.   In most of Africa, the culture of research among physiotherapy faculty is in its early stages of development.  This development could be enhanced through carefully crafted collaborative efforts between faculty members from countries where physiotherapy research is more developed.  These joint efforts could broaden the horizons of physiotherapy research and expand scholarly productivity for therapists globally. Collaborative research would advance the knowledge base of the profession, provide therapists with access to new rehabilitation concepts, and promote an understanding of the profession’s role within countries’ national health systems. 

 Description:  Kigali Health Institute (KHI) is the publicly funded institute of higher education at which physiotherapy is taught in Rwanda.  Three recent research projects undertaken through collaboration between faculty from the United States and faculty at KHI are described.  These projects included a study of spinal deformity among secondary school students, a study of physical therapy use at hospitals in Kigali and a study validating the use of an instrument for measuring patient satisfaction in the Kinyarwanda language.

 Evaluation: The success of the research projects depended on the resources and cooperation of both the Rwandan and United States partners.  Benefits of collaboration included intellectual sharing, curriculum development, improved access to resources, training and the ability to engage in a cross cultural relationship.  Barriers encountered in the three projects included issues around obtaining ethics approval, use of clinical staff for data collection, language and translation, participant understanding of the consent process, differing motivations to conduct research between the two partners, and resources for data management and analysis.  Research protocols were similar in concept between the two countries (proposal development, IRB) but the systems of implementation for these concepts differed enough that the Rwandan institutional partner had to orient and explain details that are often assumed.

 Conclusions:  Research collaboration with colleagues from countries in which physiotherapy research is more developed can be meaningful, and result in new information that furthers the profession.  These collaborations are only successful when cross-cultural lines of communication about research protocols and paradigms are clearly shared in advance.

 Implications:  It will be advantageous to our profession to develop a network of physiotherapy researchers interested in collaborative efforts.

 Keywords:  international cooperation, physiotherapy research, research


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