Barriers and facilitators to the conduct of critical care research in Low and Lower-middle income countries: A scoping review

Bharath Kumar Tirupakuzhi Vijayaraghavan*, Ena Gupta, Nagarajan Ramakrishnan, Abi Beane, Rashan Haniffa, Nazir I Lone, Nicolet F. De Keizer, Neill K.J. Adhikari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improvements in health-related outcomes for critically ill adults in low and lower-middle income countries need systematic investments in research capacity and infrastructure. High-quality research has been shown to strengthen health systems; yet research contributions from these regions remain negligible or absent. We undertook a scoping review to describe barriers and facilitators for the conduct of critical care research.

We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE up to December 2021 using a strategy that combined keyword and controlled vocabulary terms. We included original studies that reported on barriers or facilitators to the conduct of critical care research in these settings. Two reviewers independently reviewed titles and abstracts, and where necessary, the full-text to select eligible studies. For each study, reviewers independently extracted data using a standardized data extraction form. Barriers and facilitators were classified along the lines of a previous review and based on additional themes that emerged. Study quality was assessed using appropriate tools.

We identified 2693 citations, evaluated 49 studies and identified 6 for inclusion. Of the included studies, four were qualitative, one was a cross-sectional survey and one was reported as an ‘analysis’. The total number of participants ranged from 20-100 and included physicians, nurses, allied healthcare workers and researchers. Barriers identified included limited funding, poor institutional & national investment, inadequate access to mentors, absence of training in research methods, limited research support staff, and absence of statistical support. Our review identified potential solutions such as developing a mentorship network, streamlining of regulatory processes, implementing a centralized institutional research agenda, developing a core-outcome dataset and enhancing access to low-cost technology.

Our scoping review highlights important barriers to the conduct of critical care research in low and lower-middle income countries, identifies potential solutions, and informs researchers, policymakers and governments on the steps necessary for strengthening research systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2022


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