Research attitudes, practice and literacy among Kenyan palliative care healthcare professionals: an observational, cross-sectional online survey


Abstract Background: While research is needed to advocate for implementation of global agendas to strengthen palliative care, healthcare professionals’ research literacy must improve to bridge the gap between evidence and practice. A resurgent focus on North-South power disparities, means attention should also focus on understanding low- and middle-income countries’ local agency to implement palliative care research agendas. Methods: An observational, cross-sectional online survey among Kenyan palliative healthcare professionals currently working at any of the palliative and hospice care organizations operational during January – December 2019, using descriptive statistics. Results: Among the 93 survey respondents, participants were mainly nurses (50.54%; n = 47). Regarding research attitudes: all agreed/strongly agreed research was important for their professional work. Over nine-tenths (91.21%; n = 83) reported having the skills to conduct research, and 91.30% (n = 84) wanted to conduct research in their clinical work. 90% (90.21%; n = 83) reported supervisory support to conduct research. A comparable proportion (90.22%; n = 83) would undertake research if they could find funding. Regarding research practice: over two-thirds (70.65%; n = 65) reported ever having had a mentor who encouraged them to do research, while approximately half (50.59%; n = 43) reported reading evidence-based journal articles about once per month and attending monthly in-house meetings on palliative care (56.79%; n = 46). Regarding research literacy: while over two-fifths of respondents described their current research literacy level as ‘none’ or ‘beginner’ (44.56%; n = 41), a comparable proportion described it as ‘intermediate’ (45.65%; n = 42), with 9 (9.78%) stating it was ‘advanced’. Conclusion: The majority of palliative healthcare professionals report having interest, skills and support at work to conduct palliative care research, with a low-to-medium level of research literacy. The current study explored palliative care staff attitudes to, experience in, and literacy with the research process, which is necessary to creating a dialogue on implementing research findings. This study also adds to the global empowerment agenda, addressing inequities in research opportunities and local capacity to own and undertake palliative care research.

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