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Training community healthcare workers on the use of information and communication technologies: a randomised controlled trial of traditional versus blended learning in Malawi, Africa.

Training community healthcare workers on the use of information and communication technologies: a randomised controlled trial of traditional versus blended learning in Malawi, Africa.

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Training community healthcare workers on the use of information and communication technologies: a randomised controlled trial of traditional versus blended learning in Malawi, Africa.

BMC Med Educ. 2018 Apr 02;18(1):61

Authors: Mastellos N, Tran T, Dharmayat K, Cecil E, Lee HY, Wong CCP, Mkandawire W, Ngalande E, Wu JT, Hardy V, Chirambo BG, O'Donoghue JM

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Despite the increasing uptake of information and communication technologies (ICT) within healthcare services across developing countries, community healthcare workers (CHWs) have limited knowledge to fully utilise computerised clinical systems and mobile apps. The 'Introduction to Information and Communication Technology and eHealth' course was developed with the aim to provide CHWs in Malawi, Africa, with basic knowledge and computer skills to use digital solutions in healthcare delivery. The course was delivered using a traditional and a blended learning approach.
METHODS: Two questionnaires were developed and tested for face validity and reliability in a pilot course with 20 CHWs. Those were designed to measure CHWs' knowledge of and attitudes towards the use of ICT, before and after each course, as well as their satisfaction with each learning approach. Following validation, a randomised controlled trial was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the two learning approaches. A total of 40 CHWs were recruited, stratified by position, gender and computer experience, and allocated to the traditional or blended learning group using block randomisation. Participants completed the baseline and follow-up questionnaires before and after each course to assess the impact of each learning approach on their knowledge, attitudes, and satisfaction. Per-item, pre-post and between-group, mean differences for each approach were calculated using paired and unpaired t-tests, respectively. Per-item, between-group, satisfaction scores were compared using unpaired t-tests.
RESULTS: Scores across all scales improved after attending the traditional and blended learning courses. Self-rated ICT knowledge was significantly improved in both groups with significant differences between groups in seven domains. However, actual ICT knowledge scores were similar across groups. There were no significant differences between groups in attitudinal gains. Satisfaction with the course was generally high in both groups. However, participants in the blended learning group found it more difficult to follow the content of the course.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that there is no difference between blended and traditional learning in the acquisition of actual ICT knowledge among community healthcare workers in developing countries. Given the human resource constraints in remote resource-poor areas, the blended learning approach may present an advantageous alternative to traditional learning.

PMID: 29609596 [PubMed - in process]

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