Strengthening research capacity in the Pacific: an example from the Atoifi Health Research Group, Solomon Islands

Australas Psychiatry. 2015 Dec;23(6 Suppl):42-4. doi: 10.1177/1039856215609768.


Objective: To provide an example of one model of research capacity building for mental health from a remote setting in Solomon Islands.

Methods: The Atoifi Health Research Group is building health research capacity with a health service on the remote east coast of Malaita, Solomon Islands. The group uses a 'learn-by-doing' approach embedded in health service and community-level health projects. The group is eclectic in nature and deliberately engages a variety of partners to discover culturally informed methods of collecting, analysing and disseminating research findings.

Results: Key successes of the Atoifi Health Research Group are: that it was initiated by Solomon Islanders with self-expressed desire to learn about research; the learn-by-doing model; inclusion of community people to inform questions and socio-cultural appropriateness; and commitment to ongoing support by international researchers.

Conclusions: Given different social, cultural, economic, geographic, spiritual and service contexts across the Pacific, locally appropriate approaches need to be considered. Such approaches challenge the orthodox approach of centralized investment to replicate specialist driven approaches of funder nations. Increasing expertise at all levels through participatory capacity building models that define and address local problems may be more sustainable and responsive to local mental health contexts.

Keywords: Atoifi Health Research Group; Solomon Islands; capacity building; international partnerships; mental health; participatory approaches; research capacity.

MeSH terms

  • Capacity Building*
  • Humans
  • Melanesia
  • Mental Health*
  • Program Development
  • Research*