Nurses’ and midwives’ Experiences of Accessing Research evidence for practice in Ghana

Nurses and midwives (N&Ms) require access to research evidence to underpin their practice. Evidence indicates difficulties in accessing research evidence in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs), such as Ghana. Healthcare educators often only have access to older journal articles or books, or abstracts rather than full papers.  

Evidence-based healthcare education and practice, drawing on up-to-date research, is key to the provision of high-quality healthcare to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals. Healthcare Colleges and Universities in LMICs cannot afford journal subscription rates, and there are infrastructural barriers to accessing up-to-date evidence for healthcare education. The World Health Organisation (WHO) set up HINARI to enable LMICs to access research evidence, but the problems of access remain. 

NEAR Ghana and REACH Ghana bring together healthcare educators, practitioners, policy makers and regulators to explore these challenges from a range of perspectives in order to co-produce solutions that will fit the cultural, educational, economic and social context of healthcare education and practice in Ghana.

NEAR Ghana

NEAR Ghana aims to a) understand nurses’ and midwives’ experiences of accessing research evidence for practice in Ghana and b) develop partnerships and a network of N&Ms who are interested in research capacity development. This contextual knowledge, and the development of partnerships and network, will inform the design and implementation of REACH Ghana, aimed at strengthening research capacity of the healthcare workforce in Ghana.  


REACH Ghana will build on the work done through NEAR Ghana in order to a) further develop strong partnerships and networks that support the development and implementation of culturally appropriate interventions and b) improve access to research publications for healthcare education and practice in Ghana. This project focuses on understanding and finding solutions to the barriers to accessing research evidence for educating healthcare practitioners in Ghana.  

These projects draw on the 7 principles for strengthening research capacity in LMICs (Essence 2014) and REACH Ghana will use the 6 Steps to Quality Intervention Development (6SQuID) framework to work with a wide range of stakeholders including healthcare educators, healthcare practitioners, policy makers, healthcare education regulators to understand the issues, co-produce and implement contextually appropriate interventions.  

NEAR Ghana pilots a framework for addressing these needs with a specific group of key stakeholders: nurses and midwives. These are two of the biggest stakeholder groups within the healthcare workforce. A contextual understanding of the problem for these groups can inform the development of an appropriate research design for the REACH Ghana project. 

Both projects build on existing partnerships between Stenhouse, Doi (both UoE), Awua and Ebu Enyan (Kintampo College of Health and Wellbeing, University of Cape Coast) and from the findings of our collaborative systematic review. Our review identified that healthcare educators and practitioners in LMICs experience individual and institutional challenges in accessing research. Key challenges identified in our review, and confirmed through discussion with our Ghana partners, included lack of individual research competencies, and institutional challenges including lack of access to databases or full-text papers.  


  1. Build a strong network of key stakeholders to support development and implementation of interventions to improve access to research publications in Ghana.  

  1. Understand the limitations/barriers to accessing quality contemporary healthcare research publications in Ghana [work package (WP) 1 – 6SQuID step1: understanding the problem and its causes].  

  1. Engage with key stakeholders to raise awareness of barriers and understand potential for modification to bring about change [WP 2 – 6SQuID steps 2 and 3: identifying modifiable and non-modifiable factors, and change mechanism]. 

  1. To develop interventions to support improved access to research publications in Ghana [WP 3 – 6SQuID steps 4 and 5: delivering change, and testing interventions to ensure acceptability and sustainability]. 

Funded by CAHSS KE&I development grants.