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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051319. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Capacity-building and clinical competence in infectious disease in Uganda: a mixed-design study with pre/post and cluster-randomized trial components.

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  • 1Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, United States of America. mweaver@uw.edu



Best practices for training mid-level practitioners (MLPs) to improve global health-services are not well-characterized. Two hypotheses were: 1) Integrated Management of Infectious Disease (IMID) training would improve clinical competence as tested with a single arm, pre-post design, and 2) on-site support (OSS) would yield additional improvements as tested with a cluster-randomized trial.


Thirty-six Ugandan health facilities (randomized 1∶1 to parallel OSS and control arms) enrolled two MLPs each. All MLPs participated in IMID (3-week core course, two 1-week boost sessions, distance learning). After the 3-week course, OSS-arm trainees participated in monthly OSS. Twelve written case scenarios tested clinical competencies in HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other infectious diseases. Each participant completed different randomly-assigned blocks of four scenarios before IMID (t0), after 3-week course (t1), and after second boost course (t2, 24 weeks after t1). Scoring guides were harmonized with IMID content and Ugandan national policy. Score analyses used a linear mixed-effects model. The primary outcome measure was longitudinal change in scenario scores.


Scores were available for 856 scenarios. Mean correct scores at t0, t1, and t2 were 39.3%, 49.1%, and 49.6%, respectively. Mean score increases (95% CI, p-value) for t0-t1 (pre-post period) and t1-t2 (parallel-arm period) were 12.1 ((9.6, 14.6), p<0.001) and -0.6 ((-3.1, +1.9), p = 0.647) percent for OSS arm and 7.5 ((5.0, 10.0), p<0.001) and 1.6 ((-1.0, +4.1), p = 0.225) for control arm. The estimated mean difference in t1 to t2 score change, comparing arm A (participated in OSS) vs. arm B was -2.2 ((-5.8, +1.4), p = 0.237). From t0-t2, mean scores increased for all 12 scenarios.


Clinical competence increased significantly after a 3-week core course; improvement persisted for 24 weeks. No additional impact of OSS was observed. Data on clinical practice, facility-level performance and health outcomes will complete assessment of overall impact of IMID and OSS.


ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01190540.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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