The development and education of a workforce in childhood cancer services in low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review protocol

Syst Rev. 2022 Aug 13;11(1):167. doi: 10.1186/s13643-022-02040-0.


Background: An estimated 400,000 children develop cancer worldwide. Of those, 90% occur in low- and middle-income countries, where survival rates can be as low as 30%. To reduce the childhood cancer survival gap between high- and low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), the World Health Organization launched the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer in 2018, to support governments in building sustainable childhood cancer programs, with the aim to increase access and quality of care for children with cancer. Developing a high-quality and trained workforce is key to the success of childhood cancer services, but more information is needed on the interventions used to develop and train a workforce. The objective of this review is to understand the key factors described in the literature in relation to the development and training of a workforce in childhood cancer (defined here as ages 0-19) in LMIC, including challenges, interventions and their outcomes.

Methods: We will include sources of evidence that describe the development or training of a childhood cancer workforce in health services that diagnose, refer or treat children and adolescents with cancer, in low- and middle-income countries as defined by the World Bank. The following databases will be searched: OVID Medline, Embase and Pubmed from 2001 to present with no restriction of language. Grey literature searches will also be performed in Proquest Dissertation and Theses, as well as relevant organizations' websites, and conference proceedings will be searched in conference websites. In addition, references lists will be reviewed manually. Two people will screen abstracts and full-texts and extract data. Data will be presented in a table or chart, with an accompanying narrative summary responding to the review questions. A framework synthesis will be conducted: data will be charted against a framework adapted from the 2016 WHO Global Strategy for Human Resources for Heath: Workforce 2030.

Discussion: This scoping review will allow to map the existing literature on workforce development in LMIC, identify potential interventions and highlight data and knowledge gaps. This constitutes a first step towards adopting successful strategies more broadly, formulating research priorities and developing effective policies and interventions.

Systematic review registration: Open Science Framework

Keywords: Childhood cancer; Health professionals; Health systems; Human resources; Paediatric oncology; Training; Workforce.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries*
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Poverty
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Workforce
  • Young Adult