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Medical Journal of Zambia

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Mapping Postgraduate Research at the University of Zambia: A review of dissertations for the Master of Medicine Programme

Y Ahmed, CW Kanyengo, A Akakandelwa

Abstract


Background: The publication of a dissertation is an integral part of the four-year postgraduate degree of Master of Medicine (in clinical disciplines) within the School of Medicine at the University of Zambia. The governing research policy states that the subject matter of the dissertation is expected to cover a topic relevant to health care in the Zambian context, that it be conducted in a way that is consistent with international ethical guidelines for biomedical research involving human subjects, and that research outcomes should be maximally utilized. The aim of the study is to explore the characteristics of the Masters of Medicine research at the University of Zambia.
Methodology: This descriptive study explores the subject matter and research methodology by type of clinical specialty of all dissertations from 1986 to 2009.
Results: The 132 dissertations included 36 (27.3%) in Surgery, 35 (26.5%) in Paediatrics, 32 (24.2%) in Internal Medicine, 24 (18.2%) in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and 5 (3.8%) in Orthopaedic Surgery. Only 7 (5.3%) were interventional/experimental studies (4 of which were randomized controlled trials). Cross-sectional studies were the predominant type of the 125 observational studies (n=112, 84.8%). Thirty-three dissertations (25.0%) predominantly addressed HIV (16 Internal Medicine, 10 Paediatrics, 6 Surgery and 1 Obstetrics and Gynaecology); and 18 (13.6%) predominantly addressed infections, excluding TB (11 in Paediatrics). Other subjects included malignancy (n=6), TB (n=5), and diabetes mellitus (n=4). Over half of the dissertations (76, 57.6%) addressed the determinants of the cause, risk and development of diseases; and a third dealt with management and evaluation of diseases (26 and 18, respectively).
Conclusions: Few dissertations were based on experimental designs and most addressed determinants of the cause of diseases through crosssectional studies. HIVand infections predominate as diseases reflecting the prevailing disease patterns in Lusaka in particular, and Zambia in general. 

Keywords: UNZA, Postgraduate, Research




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