The MEGA project started the data collection involved in phase I in the study by using an expert panel as the study method. The panel was held to validate the MEGA study instruments that will be used to map primary health care workers’ educational needs in South Africa and Zambia. The expert panel was organized in two phases at the University of Free State, Bloemfontein, SA and the University of Zambia, Lusaka in April–May 2018.
The expert panel consisted of both professional experts (the MEGA project researchers) and experiential experts (primary health care workers). Eleven (n=11) professional experts from the MEGA project management team and ten experientials (n=10) from the participating project partner clinic were invited to share their thoughts about Mental Health Literacy Scale (O’Connor & Casey 2015) and to test the relevance of the elements/items (n=35) of the scale. After answering the questionnaire, a focus group discussion was held.
This expert panel method is an important phase in hearing research experts’ opinions about the relevance of the study methods and tools. Respectively, via expert panel, also the voices of the local clinical professionals and their professional experience can be involved already in the early stage of the project.