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Leadership development programs for healthcare professionals in low-and middle-income countries: A systematic review.

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Leadership development programs are integral to the future success of public health and healthcare organisations. Despite low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) bearing a greater burden of unmet medical needs, fewer professional development opportunities exist in these settings. This study aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of available leadership development programs for healthcare professionals in LMICs.


This study conforms to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis-P systematic review and traditional meta-analyses guidelines. Articles were identified through five academic databases: Embase, PubMed, Web of Science, ERIC, and Business Source Complete. Eligibility criteria included original research published in peer-reviewed journals on non-clinical, leadership development programs offered to healthcare professionals in LMICs worldwide.


Forty-one peer-reviewed articles met inclusion criteria, of which physicians, nurses, and public health professionals were the most common types of providers to attend leadership development programs; no programs exclusively targeted surgeons. The greatest proportion of programs were short-term interventions (ranging from 1 day to 12 weeks). Communication, organizational structure and leadership, and personal development were identified as the three most common leadership themes in the review. Regionally, leadership programs were reported most commonly in Africa, specifically in Anglophone countries. Other regions worldwide, including Latin America and the Caribbean, were underrepresented in the review.


The findings from this review identify gaps in leadership development programs for certain groups of healthcare professionals from certain geographical regions, supporting the need for further provision of and participation in these opportunities in LMICs.

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