Conducting Research in Ghana: highlighting the inequities through storytelling

Conducting Research in Ghana: highlighting the inequities through storytelling


This blog is a report on the 2023 World Evidence-based Healthcare Day 2023 Celebrations webinar hosted by the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Research Group of the Ghana Physiotherapy Association (GPA) on 18 October 2023. The EBP Research Group aims to promote the EBP culture among physiotherapists (PTs) and other rehabilitation practitioners in Ghana and beyond, through advocacy, training, and research.


Rationale for the Webinar

Research informs EBP and in the conduct of research, researchers face several challenges globally but even more in lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Ghana with limited resources and other competing factors. The World Evidence-based Healthcare Day 2023 campaign was focused on “Evidence and Global Health Equity” and aimed to examine how the global evidence community can foster and embed equity within and across evidence ecosystems to advance global health equity. As part of our advocacy arm, the EBP Research Group of the Ghana Physiotherapy Association joined other stakeholders in the 2023 campaign by hosting a webinar themed; “Conducting Research in Ghana: highlighting the iniquities through Storytelling”. This webinar discussed the challenges facing Ghanaian researchers and clinicians in conducting and publishing research, as well as recommendations to address these challenges through storytelling.

As a Ghanaian evidence-focused Research Group, we joined other stakeholders in this celebration through this webinar to discuss the experiences of conducting research within the Ghanaian context and identifying ways of making it better. More broadly, we joined global efforts in highlighting some of the inequities in generating evidence through research globally and locally. We also led discussions on how to promote and strengthen the Ghanaian research evidence ecosystems to contribute to global knowledge generation on health equity. 

This 90-minute webinar provided a discussion and knowledge hub for physiotherapists with common challenges limiting the conduct of research and publication in Ghana, as well as proposed recommendations for addressing these challenges through storytelling. The presenter in consultation with the EBP Research Group chose the storytelling approach for this webinar. This is because we believe storytelling is part of the Ghanaian culture, a means of knowledge transmission across generations, and has the potential to create a participatory and immersive experience. The storytelling approach was also expected to help the webinar audience to relate, understand, and appreciate research as part of their lives. In all, this webinar aimed to discuss the barriers and recommendations to conducting research within the Ghanaian physiotherapy context through knowledge transfer with the specific objectives listed below:

  • Describe the challenges associated with conducting research within the Ghanaian (physiotherapy) context by storytelling.
  • Facilitate better understanding of the research landscape in Ghana.
  • Recommend strategies to address the challenges.

The webinar event

The webinar ran from 5:00 - 6:30 pm local time, recording a huge turnout totaling between 112-116 participants with both national and international participants from Canada, Uganda, Nigeria, and Cameroon among others. Dr. Beatrice Sankah, the EBP Research Group lead moderated the event. The facilitator and guest speaker was Ms. Mary Wetani Agoriwo (PT. MSc.), the Parkinson's disease research lead within the EBP Research Group. She is a researcher and an academic at the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana, and a PhD Candidate at Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa (Connect with Mary on X: @marywetani  & LinkedIn: maryagoriwo).


The presentation

The speaker, Ms. Mary W. Agoriwo, delivered the webinar by telling the research journey story of Mr. Atanga, a clinical physiotherapist and a researcher. The story was created based on the presenter’s research experience coupled with the experiences of friends and colleagues conducting research in Ghana and other African countries. The character ‘Atanga’ represented every researcher in the Ghanaian and LMICs context portraying the challenges experienced in the quest to conduct research in these parts of the world. The presenter drew a comparative picture of Atanga’s proposed research timelines or plan and highlighted the challenges associated with his research reality. These challenges included lack of funding, delays in ethics processes, poor documentation, limited resources and expertise in data analysis, dissemination challenges, and inequity and delays in publication. His planned 18-month research timelines ended up being two years and 10 months. Furthermore, these challenges were similar to what had been reported in the literature by Lages, Pfajfar & Shoham, (2015) and Conradie et al, (2018).

These research challenges may not be completely addressed before researchers in LMICs could generate home-grown evidence. Therefore, some practical recommendations were made to help reduce the burden and the struggles in conducting research in Ghana and other LMICs. The proposed recommendations ranged from effective collaborations, encouraging institutional support for research and good clinical documentation, increased avenues for dissemination, and request for editors and reviewers to stop the stereotyping of research output from LMICs. Also, there is the need to build capacity to create more local journals, work towards attaining high impact factor status and getting indexed in credible databases. The EBP Research Group plans a call for case studies for publication and will continue to organize workshops to offer training in various aspects of research conduction and publication. Some local and international journals such as the European Journal of Physiotherapy and Journal of Physiotherapy amongst others that publish articles from LMICs were also recommended to be considered by researchers from LMICs (Sharma et al, 2023). A video recording of the webinar is accessible on YouTube.

Take Home Message

The webinar was a successful event with a high attendance and it is our expectation that the character ‘Atanga’ will resonate with all participants as they go about their clinical and research pursuits. Home-grown evidence is vital for improved health outcomes and equity. In all, passion and drive for quality research are key to achieving the desired evidence for global health equity.

Please read the Group’s 2023 World Evidence-based Healthcare Day blog here.

About the Authors: The Evidence-Based Practice Research Group is an evidence-focused Group within the Ghana Physiotherapy Association with the vision to promote the evidence-based practice culture amongst physiotherapists within and beyond Ghana through research, training and advocacy. The researchers within the Group are: Beatrice E.A. Sankah, Mary W. Agoriwo, Martin Ackah, Hosea Boakye, Akua Afiriyie Bilson, Adjoa Banson and Cosmos Yarfi. Please connect with us on X: @EBPgroup_GPA and email:

Disclaimer: The views expressed in published articles, as well as any errors or omissions, are the sole responsibility of the author/s and do not represent the views of the Africa Evidence Network, its secretariat, advisory or reference groups, or its funders; nor does it imply endorsement by the afore-mentioned parties. We hope you enjoyed this blog teaser. Be sure to watch our newsletter for when the full blog post is published after Evidence 2023.