Synergistic Impact of Training Followed by On-Site Support on HIV Clinical Practice: A Mixed-Design Study in Uganda With Pre/Post and Cluster-Randomized Trial Components

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Abstract

Background:

Task shifting can expand antiretroviral therapy access, but little is known about effective approaches to improve clinical practice among midlevel practitioners (MLPs) such as clinical officers, nurses, and midwives. The Integrated Infectious Diseases Capacity Building Evaluation compared training alone with training combined with on-site support (OSS).

Methods:

Two MLPs each from 36 health facilities attended the 5-week Integrated Management of Infectious Disease training. After training, 18 facilities randomly assigned to arm A received OSS for 9 months, whereas 18 arm B facilities did not. Clinical faculty assessed MLP HIV clinical practice on 6 tasks: history taking, physical examination, laboratory investigations, diagnosis, treatment, and patient education. We analyzed the effect of training alone and training combined with OSS as the pre/post change within each arm. We analyzed the incremental effect of OSS with a difference-in-difference analysis that compared changes between arms.

Results:

Training alone and training combined with OSS significantly improved clinical practice in patient history taking (13% and 24% increase, respectively), physical examination (54% and 71%), laboratory investigations (32% and 20%), and diagnosis (31% and 51%). Combined training and OSS also improved patient education significantly (72% increase). Effect sizes for training combined with OSS were larger than for training alone except for laboratory investigations, and the effects were robust in sensitivity analyses. The incremental effect of OSS on diagnosis was significant [adjusted relative risk = 1.23; 95% confidence interval = 1.00 to 1.50].

Conclusions:

Combined training and OSS improved MLP HIV clinical practice over training alone and can contribute to continued expansion of access to antiretroviral therapy.

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