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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 127-131

Peer review for social accountability of health sciences education: A model from South Africa

1 Collaboration for Health Equity through Education and Research, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
2 Primary Health Care and Collaboration for Health Equity through Education and Research, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
3 University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Desireé Christine Michaels
University of Cape Town (UCT) and National Co ordinator for the Collaboration for Health Equity through Education and Research (CHEER), Primary Health Care Directorate, University of Cape Town, E47 Rm68, Old Main Building, Groote Schuur Hospital, Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town 7925
South Africa
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Source of Support: The Cheer peer review process was supported with funding from Atlantic Philanthropies,, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.143728

Background: The Collaboration for Health Equity in Education and Research (CHEER) is unique in the composition of its members who represent all the Faculties of Health Sciences in South Africa. Over the past 10 years, CHEER has conducted 18 peer reviews involving all the institutions. In August 2012, CHEER embarked on its pilot peer review on Social Accountability in Health Sciences in South Africa. This paper shares the lessons learned and insights from the pilot process. Methods: A descriptive study design, using qualitative methods, which focused primarily on semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions, supplemented with supporting documentation, was employed. The protocol was developed by CHEER members and ethics approval was obtained. Results: Arising from our pilot peer review, reviewers identified several key components of the review process that should be noted for future reviews on social accountability. These relate to: (a) The composition of the review team; (b) the review process; (c) data collection and analysis; and (d) the reporting process. Discussion: Peer review is a useful way of building consensus and a common set of values that become more explicit through the process. We found that six criteria, namely, values, reference population, partnerships, student profile, graduate outcomes and impact, provide the basis for establishing standards for reflecting social accountability. The peer review is a process of institutional self-review supported by 'a panel of critical friends' and is useful when considered as part of the process of preparation for the formal accreditation review at Health Sciences educational institutions.

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