Original Research

Conducting clinical research in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic: Challenges and lessons for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology research

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Monroe, Ben Sebothoma
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 2 | a898 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i2.898 | © 2022 Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Monroe, Ben Sebothoma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2022 | Published: 18 July 2022

About the author(s)

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nomfundo Monroe, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ben Sebothoma, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) presented new and unanticipated challenges to the academic training and performance of clinical research at undergraduate and postgraduate levels of training. This highlighted the need for reimagining research designs and methods to ensure continued generation of knowledge – a core function of a research-intensive university. Whilst adhering to government regulations geared towards protecting both the research participants and researchers, innovative research methods are required.

Objective: The purpose of this scoping review is to explore published evidence on innovative clinical research methods and processes employed during COVID-19 and to document challenges encountered and lessons that the fields of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology can learn.

Methods: Electronic bibliographic databases including Science Direct, PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE, ProQuest were searched to identify peer-reviewed publications, published in English, between 2019 and 2021, related to innovative clinical research methods and processes applied where in-person contact is regulated.

Results: Significant challenges with conducting research in the COVID-19 era were identified, with important lessons learned and numerous opportunities that have relevance for this pandemic era and beyond. These findings are presented under 10 themes that emerged that highlight important considerations for research methods and processes during a pandemic and beyond. The findings of this study also raise implications for telehealth from which low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where resource challenges exist, can benefit.

Conclusion: Challenges and opportunities identified in this review have relevance for the field of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology as far as current and future (beyond COVID-19) clinical research planning is concerned.


Keywords

audiology; challenges; clinical research; COVID-19; ethical considerations; lessons; Speech-Language Pathology; South Africa

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