• Developing Countries;
  • Health Systems;
  • Nursing Research;
  • Research Training

Aim:  To discuss factors that have influenced the development of research capacity among nurses in lower and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Background:  Concerned health scientists have addressed the importance of building research capacity among health professionals. Strengthening capacity specifically among LMIC nurses has been infrequently discussed. Without the requisite educational preparation or an enabling environment for research, nurses are unlikely to either demand research capacity-building opportunities or initiate research examining nursing practice and health system challenges.

Methods:  A scan was conducted of nine internationally funded research capacity-building initiatives to identify programme targeting and the proportion of nurse trainees. A literature review examined graduate and post-graduate training opportunities for LMIC nurses, and barriers and enablers to nurses' involvement in research. Informal consultations were held with nurse leaders in 15 LMICs and leaders of eight LMIC nursing organizations.

Findings:  The scan found a generic targeting of health professionals with a very low percentage of nurse trainees. Programmes specifically targeting nurses did attract and prepare a significant number of nurses. Factors limiting nurses' involvement in research include hierarchies of power among disciplines, scarce resources, a lack of graduate and post-graduate education opportunities, few senior mentors, and prolonged underfunding of nursing research.

Conclusions:  Fully engaging LMIC nurses in health services research may yield pragmatic and evidence-informed service delivery and policy recommendations. Investments in supports for nursing research capacity may enrich global health policy effectiveness and improve quality of care.