Trends in Global Health Research: The Discrepancy Between Health Challenges, Resources and Priorities

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kimberly A. Hines, RN, BSN, BSHS
School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Elizabeth Lipman-Diaz, MS, BSN, BA, CPNP
School of Nursing & Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Learning Objective 1: To explore current trends in global health research.

Learning Objective 2: To discuss barriers and opportunities for nurses in global health research.

Purpose: The purpose of this literature review was to critically synthesize the existing information pertaining to global health research, particularly the current trends, obstacles, and potential roles for nurses with advanced practice and research degrees.

Methods:   All levels of quantitative and qualitative studies published in English within the last year were searched via PUBMED, CINAHL and PSYCHINFO.  Studies that involved human, plant and animal subjects were eligible for review. 

Results:  Five hundred publications were randomly selected for review.  Of the total number of publications selected, 259 articles met the inclusion criteria.  The articles were classified according to the 7 Global Challenges in Global Health.  The majority of articles were quantitative and were published in Western journals.  The distribution of research appeared to be influenced by the individual wealth, needs and location of the country in which the research was conducted and not by the 7 Global Challenges.

Conclusion: Fraught with complexity, dilemmas, and barriers, global health research faces issues of ethics, economics, politics, technical logistics, social justice, culture, and communication, particularly among researchers, research participants, and policy-makers.  Doctorally prepared nurses are uniquely positioned in the community as clinicians, researchers, and administrators to play a key role in translational research efforts. As advocates for vulnerable populations, they are instrumental in generating innovative ideas from the field, leading to research that ultimately contributes to significant health policy advances.