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Since 2012, The World Health Organization and UNICEF have advocated for community health workers (CHWs) to be trained in Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) of common childhood illnesses, such as pneumonia. Despite the effectiveness of iCCM, CHWs face many barriers to accessing training. This pilot study compares traditional training with using locally made videos loaded onto low-cost Android tablets to train CHWs on the pneumonia component of iCCM.
We conducted a pilot randomised controlled trial with CHWs in the Mukono District of Uganda. The unit of randomisation was the sub-county level, and the unit of analysis was at the level of the individual CHW. Eligible CHWs had completed basic iCCM training but had not received any refresher training on the pneumonia component of iCCM in the preceding 2 years. CHWs in the control group received training in the recognition, treatment, and prevention of pneumonia as it is currently delivered, through a 1-day, in-person workshop. CHWs allocated to the intervention group received training via locally made educational videos hosted on low-cost Android tablets. The primary outcome was change in knowledge acquisition, assessed through a multiple choice questionnaire before and after training, and a post-training clinical assessment. The secondary outcome was a qualitative evaluation of CHW experiences of using the tablet platform.
In the study, 129 CHWs were enrolled, 66 and 63 in the control and intervention groups respectively. CHWs in both groups demonstrated an improvement in multiple choice question test scores before and after training; however, there was no statistically significant difference in the improvement between groups (t = 1.15, p = 0.254). There was a statistically significant positive correlation (Pearson’s r = 0.26, p = 0.03) linking years of education to improvement in test scores in the control group, which was not present in the intervention group. The majority of CHWs expressed satisfaction with the use of tablets as a training tool; however, some reported technical issues (n = 9).
Tablet-based training is comparable to traditional training in terms of knowledge acquisition. It also proved to be feasible and a satisfactory means of delivering training to CHWs. Further research is required to understand the impacts of scaling such an intervention.
Registered on 23/11/2016 at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02971449).