Postgraduate Master of Medicine student perspectives on data access and record-keeping for research

Main Article Content

S Prahladh
J van Wyk
D Naidoo


Background. Registrars in specialisation training programmes encounter numerous difficulties in completing the research component of the Master of Medicine degree. Poor patient record-keeping hinders the research process.

Objectives. To investigate current types of medical patient record-keeping systems (electronic v. paper) in training health facilities, and the effect data accessibility has on specialist training and research.

Methods. This was a mixed-methods study that included both descriptive and analytical components. Of 610 postgraduate students enrolled in the University of KwaZulu-Natal College of Health Sciences Master of Medicine programme, 168 completed a cross-sectional survey to collect data and 11 did follow-up interviews. The survey and interviews explored issues related to medical record-keeping in the participants’ department or hospital, emphasising their experiences with data access while conducting research. The quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, and the qualitative data were analysed thematically. Ethical approval was obtained from the institution’s Biomedical Research Ethics Committee.

Results. Of the 168 participants, 94 (56%) reported that problems with data access hindered their research, while 56 (33%) indicated that data access did not affect their research. Only 30 participants (18%) had no difficulty in obtaining data for their research, while the rest (n=138; 82%) experienced varying degrees of difficulty. A total of 110 participants (65%) indicated that paper-based record-keeping was mainly being used in their department or hospital, while electronic record-keeping was reported by the rest (n=58; 35%). Many (n=125; 74%) expressed the need to improve hospital data management practices, and 39 (23%) reported that plans were being implemented to improve these practices. Participants expressed frustration with regard to accessing data even in departments that used electronic systems, and they raised concerns regarding data security.

Conclusion. The migration to electronic patient record-keeping has not yet been implemented in many hospitals, with poor patient record-keeping affecting training and research.


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Postgraduate Master of Medicine student perspectives on data access and record-keeping for research. (2024). African Journal of Health Professions Education, 16(1), e829.
Research Articles

How to Cite

Postgraduate Master of Medicine student perspectives on data access and record-keeping for research. (2024). African Journal of Health Professions Education, 16(1), e829.


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