To evaluate the effectiveness of the Perinatal Continuing Education Programme (PCEP) in a Latin American country.METHODS
We carried out a study within secondary and tertiary care, and rural Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) hospitals on the Yucatan Peninsula. Participants were doctors, nurses and nursing assistants working with pregnant women and newborns at each hospital. The PCEP was translated into Spanish and then implemented between January 1998 and December 2001. Two nurses at each hospital were trained to co-ordinate the programme and the personnel were invited to participate. Participation involved purchasing the self-teaching books, study outside work hours and participation in skills demonstration and practice sessions. Evaluation included the percentage of personnel who participated in and those who completed the programme, an opinion survey of the programme, level of pre- and post-intervention knowledge, and the quality of neonatal care according to expert-recommended routines. Results were analysed with chi-square and Student's t-tests.RESULTS
A total of 65.3% of the 1421 people in the study population began the programme and 72% of those completed it. Improvement was observed in 14 of 23 (P < 0.05) evaluated neonatal care practices. Participants rated the written material as very clear and useful in daily practice.CONCLUSIONS
The PCEP is an effective strategy for improving the level of knowledge and perinatal care in all regional hospitals on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. This initial application of the PCEP in a Spanish-speaking country was successful.