Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why Iraqi doctors are not interested in research

Iraqi doctors are generally not interested in doing research. Many have a negative attitude towards it and argue that:

  1.  Time spent in research is better spent in patient care.
  2.  In our poorly developed situation, research is unlikely to produce significant results. Important discoveries have been made and can only be made in developed countries that have the facilities and the expertise.
These are some possible reasons for the lack of interest and the negative attitude:
1.      Lack of experience:
Most doctors lack the necessary experience:
a.       They were not involved in research during their training, unlike doctors in developed countries who get involved in research done by those who supervise their training.
b.      Most professional postgraduate degrees in clinical branches, including those from developed countries, do not include research in their requirements. (There are exceptions like the certificate of the Iraqi Board of Medical Specialties.)
c.       Earlier education in Iraq in primary and secondary schools is generally based on memorizing (one of the Arabic words commonly used to mean study is “istithkar أستذكار” which means remembering). Thinking and reasoning do not have prominent roles. The student becomes used to accepting what he is told rather than developing a skeptical exploring mind which is the basis for research.
2.      Lack of time:
Doctors are usually busy people. Their time is occupied by care of patients in government institutions and in private practice.
3.      Lack of incentive:
a.       Research is not financially rewarding.
b.      Except in universities, it does not promote the position of the doctor in the place where he or she works.
c.       Most of the problems in medical practice in the country are not medical. They are administrative, political, cultural and financial. These are less likely to be solved by medical research.
4.      Difficulties in research:
a.       Research is time consuming and mentally demanding.
b.      Technical facilities (laboratories, radiology etc.) in our hospitals and medical institutions are not satisfactory.
c.       There is no good medical record keeping and good follow up of patients.
d.      Good libraries and references are not widely available.
e.       There is no sufficient funding for research.
f.       Cooperation of patients and non medical people is generally poor. Importance of research is not widely recognized in our culture.
g.        Animal research is not generally available except on a very limited scale in universities.
h.      Ethical and legal restrictions on research on humans are not well defined and properly legislated and not carefully observed. This can create problems which may sometimes be serious.
Readers may be able to add other reasons that I may have missed.

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