Between 20th September and 5th October 2021, we conducted an online, descriptive and cross-sectional study across 12 universities in Uganda.
Study area and setting
The study was conducted in Uganda. There are currently 54 universities in Uganda turning out over 40,000 graduates annually. However, only 12 universities offer health professional courses with an estimated population of 10,000 students. These include both private and public medical schools and they are Makerere University (MAK), Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST), Busitema University (BU), Kabale University (KU), Gulu University (GU), Kampala International University (KIU), King Caesar University (KCU), Uganda Christian University (UCU), Muni University, Soroti University, Lira University, and Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU). MAK, GU, BU, MUST, Muni, Kabale and Soroti are public universities whilst the rest are private.
All undergraduate students, 18 years or older, from year 1 to year 5 of study pursuing a health profession program at any of the above-mentioned universities. Programs included were Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB), Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BSB), Bachelor of Nursing/Midwifery (BSN/MW), Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPHARM), Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), Bachelor of Medical Radiography (BMR), Bachelor of Science in Anesthesia (BSA), among others.
A sample size of 420 participants was calculated using the modified Kish—Leslie formula for infinite population, with a prevalence of 50%, margin of error of 5% at 95% confidence interval, and a 10% non-response rate.
The independent variables included were sex, age, year of study, university of study, type of university ownership and program of study. Dependent variables included questions on students’ awareness about research, attitudes, anticipated motivational factors and barriers for research involvement.
Data collection tool:
The questionnaire used had 33 questions and was adopted from previously validated questionnaires by Sayedalamin et al (19) and Lloh et al (20).It consisted of 5 sections as below:
Section l. Had 7 Questions about participants' demographics.
Section II. Had 10 questions assessing for participants' awareness about Research
Section III. Had 9 questions, assessing for participants' attitudes towards research.
Section IV. Had 3 questions, assessing for participants'perceived motivational factors and benefits for engaging in research.
Section V. Had 4 questions, assessing for participants' perceived barriers for research involvement and intentions of doing research as a career.
Data collection procedure
Data was collected by convenience sampling method. The link to the online questionnaire was sent to eligible participants via WhatsApp groups and personal inboxes plus email addresses. It was a self-administered questionnaire written in simple English for effective understanding by the participants.
The questionnaire was pre-tested among 15 undergraduate students from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Makerere University, and the identified corrections necessary were made before administering the tool to the final study participants. The questionnaire had check points that ensured that only completed forms could be submitted, and that each articipant could submit only one response form, hence excluding duplication of responses from participating more than once.
Data management and analysis
Upon completion of data collection, entries were downloaded. Data cleaning and coding were done using Microsoft Excel 2016 and coded data exported to STATA 15.0 for analysis. Demographic characteristics, awareness, barriers, benefits, and motivational factors to participate in research were first summarized as in tables with frequencies and percentages for categorical variables and mean and standard deviation for numerical variables. Attitude was summarized on a figure format. Associations between independent and dependent variables were assessed using Chi-square or Fisher’s exact tests for categorical data and Mann-Whitney U test for numerical data. Multivariable logistic regression was performed adjusting for all important confounders. Results were presented as adjusted odds ratio (aOR) and 95% confidence interval (95%CI). A p<0.05 was considered statistically significant.