Research Article: Global Health Mentoring Toolkits: A Scoping Review Relevant for Low- and Middle-Income Country Institutions

Date Published: January 14, 2019

Publisher: The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Author(s): Bhakti Hansoti, Anna Kalbarczyk, Mina C. Hosseinipour, Dorairaj Prabhakaran, Joseph D. Tucker, Jean Nachega, Lee Wallis, Jonathan K. Stiles, Adriane Wynn, Chelsea Morroni.


Capacity building in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) institutions hinges on the delivery of effective mentorship. This study presents an overview of mentorship toolkits applicable to LMIC institutions identified through a scoping review. A scoping review approach was used to 1) map the extent, range, and nature of mentorship resources and tools available and 2) to identify knowledge gaps in the current literature. To identify toolkits, we collected and analyzed data provided online that met the following criteria: written in English and from organizations and individuals involved in global health mentoring. We searched electronic databases, including PubMed, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, and Google search engine. Once toolkits were identified, we extracted the available tools and mapped them to pre-identified global health competencies. Only three of the 18 identified toolkits were developed specifically for the LMIC context. Most toolkits focused on individual mentor–mentee relationships. Most focused on the domains of communication and professional development. Fewer toolkits focused on ethics, overcoming resource limitations, and fostering institutional change. No toolkits discussed strategies for group mentoring or how to adapt existing tools to a local context. There is a paucity of mentoring resources specifically designed for LMIC settings. We identified several toolkits that focus on aspects of individual mentor–mentee relationships that could be adapted to local contexts. Future work should focus on adaptation and the development of tools to support institutional change and capacity building for mentoring.

Partial Text

Capacity building in global health is contingent on the delivery of advance mentoring in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) institutions. Mentorship here is defined as providing support and training for personal and professional development related to global health practice, education, and research. Mentorship not only has the ability to build institutional capacity, but also fosters long-lasting relationships for collaboration. Although many academics and institutions in LMIC settings receive formal or informal mentorship, the specific challenges for effective mentorship are less well addressed. Toolkits provide practical guidance and the structure to support effective mentor–mentee relationship.

We chose a scoping review approach to 1) map the extent, range, and nature of mentorship resources and tools available and 2) to identify knowledge gaps in the current literature. We used Arksey and O’Malley’s framework for conducting this scoping review, which aims to summarize the current evidence, best practice guidelines, and identify areas of limited understanding.6 Unlike a formal systematic review, scoping reviews do not use a priori inclusion criteria and do not assess the quality of published articles included in the review.

A total of 18 toolkits were judged relevant to this scoping review (Table 1). We excluded several guides that focused solely on mentoring junior faculty at U.S. institutions or staff at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Few toolkits were focused specifically on mentoring in LMIC setting (n = 3)11–13 with the majority published by North American organizations (n = 15) (Table 1). Seven toolkits were created by universities,13–19 six by professional organizations,20–25 one by a funding agency,12 two by training consortia,11,26 and two by journals.8,27 Many were focused on mentoring specifically in the health sciences (n = 11). All were relevant for mentoring in global health, but six specifically targeted mentoring in a global health context. Several included checklists and predeparture training guidelines that focus on the HIC mentee experience in an LMIC setting, three of which were included in this scoping review.19,22,23

Successful global health research and practice is dependent on strong mentorship, which requires training, guidelines, and standards for mentees, mentors, and mentoring institutions. We undertook this scoping review to identify and evaluate currently available mentoring toolkits. Most of the toolkits identified by the scoping review were developed by organizations in North America. Overall, there is a dearth of resources created by LMICs. In particular, few tools focused on how to support mentoring at the institutional level and few focused on additional competencies (e.g., ethics, resource limitations, CHA). Furthermore, none of the resources published from HIC authors and institutions included information on how they may be adapted to various settings, including LMIC settings.

Mentorship in global health research and practice is complex, but crucial to effective studies and programs. The toolkits provided in this scoping review provide practical advice for mentorship and can be used to spur change. Future endeavors in this field should seek to develop guidance around group mentoring activities and how to successfully adapt existing mentorship tools to diverse LMIC contexts.




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