Co-development and Innovation in Global Health: A case study of educational change

Rachel Locke, Colin Coles, Gwyneth Grout, Rosie Lusznat, Jo Overton, Mark Roberts

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Aim. Ten years ago, Ghana’s mental health services were severely lacking, accelerated through ‘brain drain’ as trained psychiatrists and mental health nurses left the country to work overseas. A group of UK global health workers was closely involved in a ten-year large-scale innovation aimed at helping to improve mental health services in Ghana at community level. A new generation of mental health workers in Ghana was created adding hundreds of practitioners to the workforce, meaning that thousands of Ghanaians would potentially receive support. The research reported here explored the UK group’s involvement to identify significant lessons learnt.
Method. An ‘ideological narrative’ was obtained through engaging the research participants in insider practitioner research. They were supported in this process by a university-based researcher, who offered an ‘outsider’ perspective. This novel type of narrative meant participants could not only give account of their own practice and an awareness of their own learning, but also become more aware of the significance of the often unstated, and possibly unconscious, values informing their stories.
Results. The lessons learnt by the UK global health workers from involvement in this innovation are explored within five themes: Curriculum development as an ongoing process; ‘we are all learning’ and the notion of ‘co-development’; timescales and the importance of culture; the interconnected nature of practice; and education as development.
Conclusion. This research is intended to help shape individual and group efforts that are involved in global health projects generally through project participants articulating the significant lessons learnt about educational change and the nature of development associated with such projects as ongoing ‘co-development’. It also has the potential to contribute to a wider dialogue with curriculum developers, educators, and others involved in practice innovation, all of which inevitably involve others and are never ended.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalHealth Professions Education
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2020


  • Mental health
  • curriculum development
  • global health
  • ideological narrative
  • insider practitioner research

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