(Table N.1) represents the sample characteristics. The total number of questionnaires accepted in the study was 465, the response rate was 60.8%. All participants signed an electronic consent form to participate in the study.
Males were (58.9%) of the sample and females were (41.1%). Most of the sample consisted of Syrian researchers (98.1%) in addition to a small number of participants had different citizenship (1.9%).
Data were collected from 8 Syrian Governates which were reachable to collect data. Damascus had the highest percentage followed by Hamah (41.7%, 24.3%) respectively.
Participants were from 4 different authorities, public hospitals or clinics (41.1%), private hospitals or clinics (7.5%), public universities (37%) and private universities (14.4%).
MsC students formed (66.9%) of the sample, PhD students were (23.4%), and (9.7%) were university professors from 14 different affiliations across Syria. Participants’ professional fields were: medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, public health and other medical fields (45.4%, 20.4%, 17%, 3.8%, 12.1%) respectively (Table N.1).
General Attitude Of Syrian Academics Toward Medical Research:
Most of the Syrian academics are interested in medical research (91.6%), and they think it is very important (99.6%), and would like to develop a career in medical research (53.1%). However, only (10.3%) of the Syrian academics have published an article in peer-reviewed journal and only (35.9%) have attended research-related workshops (Table N.2).
Academics from public hospitals or universities had a significantly higher rate of publishing articles (P = 0.013), and there is a significant difference between public and private authorities to develop a career in research (P = 0.034).
Institutional Factors Affecting Medical Research:
Twenty-three factors have been identified as institutional factors affecting the process of medical research in the Syrian institutes. Lack of financial support (94%), low number of supervisors (89.2%), and the decreased governmental support for medical equipment and its maintenance (91.6%) were the main institutional factors (Table N.3).
Moreover, participants reported a high level of impartiality in approving the research protocols (79.6%), and there is no freedom to choose the research topic (68.2%).
Additionally, the low collaboration between different specialties (83.4%), or different governates (82.6%), and the lack of awareness for the importance of medical research (83.7%) had a high percentage among the participants’ responses. The other factors are presented in (Table N.3).
Personal Factors Affecting Medical Research:
Thirteen personal factors affecting medical research were investigated in this study. Participants reported a high level of motivation to start a medical research (70.1%), and expressed interest to work with a team on a medical research project (90.8%). However, the lack of essential research skills were a major obstacle to most of the sample, for instance, lack of protocol writing skills (56.1%), low literature review skills (46.5%), academic English skills (62.2%) and academic writing skills (53.1%).
The fear of being solely responsible for a medical research project was common (73.3%), which was the same figure for finding the right supervisor for the research (73.3%).
Finally, the participants of the sample think that the community were not interested in medical research, and the results of research were not applicable in real life (73.38%, 50.6%) respectively (Table N.4).
Participants from public authorities had significantly better research skills in writing the research protocol, literature reviews, and academic writing compared to the private sector (p = 0.002, 0.024, 0.032) respectively.
Syrian Crisis Factors Affecting Medical Research:
The Syrian crisis has directly or indirectly affected different aspects of life. 8 specific factors were identified relating to the Syrian crisis and affecting the medical research process. Most of the sample participants found it difficult to conduct a medical research during the crisis (78.3%). Internet and electricity rationing directly affected the medical research process (74.4%), and data sources were quite difficult to access during the crisis (73.5%), and there was a high rate of sample drop out during the crisis (80.4%).
There has been a significant loss of documents and governmental databases because of the war which directly affected the medical research (72.5%), and it has been more difficult to obtain approval for research during the crisis (56.4%).
Surprisingly, participants from public authorities didn’t find that the crisis had an impact on the data collection process compared to the private sector (P = 0.007).