Improved HIV and TB Knowledge and Competence Among Mid-level Providers in a Cluster-Randomized Trial of One-on-One Mentorship for Task Shifting

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Introduction:Health worker shortages pose a challenge to the scale up of HIV care and treatment in Uganda. Training mid-level providers (MLPs) in the provision of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) treatment can expand existing health workforce capacity and access to HIV services.Methods:We conducted a cluster-randomized trial of on-site clinical mentorship for HIV and TB care at 10 health facilities in rural Uganda. Twenty MLPs at 5 randomly assigned to an intervention facilities received 8 hours a week of one-on-one mentorship, every 6 weeks over a 9-month period; and another 20 at 5 control facilities received no clinical mentorship. Enrolled MLPs' clinical knowledge and competence in management of HIV and TB was assessed using case scenarios and clinical observation at baseline and immediately after the 9-month intervention. The performance of the study health facilities on 8 TB and HIV care indicators was tracked over the 9-month period using facility patient records.Results:Thirty-nine out 40 enrolled MLPs had case scenario and clinical observation scores for both the baseline and end of intervention assessments. Mentorship was associated with a mean score increase of 16.7% (95% confidence interval: 9.8 to 23.6, P < 0.001) for the case scenario assessments and 25.9% (95% confidence interval: 14.4 to 37.5, P < 0.001) for the clinical observations. On-site clinical mentorship was significantly associated with an overall improvement for 5 of the 8 health facility TB and HIV indicators tracked.Conclusions:One-on-one on-site mentorship improves individual knowledge and competence, has a downstream effect on facility performance, and is a simple approach to training MLPs for task shifting.

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