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Med Educ. 2004 Apr;38(4):435-47.

The impact of evidence-based education on a perinatal capacity-building initiative in Macedonia.

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RPA Newborn Care, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Missenden Road, Camperdown, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia.



The perinatal mortality rate (PMR) in Macedonia is among the highest in Europe. The World Bank supported a consultant (HEJ) to collaborate with a Macedonian team to develop a national perinatal strategy with the goal of reducing the PMR. Education was given priority in the form of a hospital-based initiative to develop the capacity of health professionals to introduce evidence-based perinatal practice into 16 participating hospitals. A "train the teachers" approach was used, with trainees introduced to modern education and clinical practice in Sydney and subsequently supported to train their colleagues in Skopje.


To describe the development, implementation and evaluation of the educational intervention.


A curriculum, based on specific Macedonian needs, was developed in order to integrate teaching in the knowledge, skills and attitudinal domains of learning, using small group, interactive techniques. Twenty-five Macedonian doctors and nurses participated in 4-month (phase 1a) and 6-month (phase 1b) teaching programmes at a tertiary perinatal unit in Sydney. Australian staff conducted 4 2-week modules for 36 trainees in Macedonia (phase 2). The phase 1 trainees conducted 8 modules for 57 colleagues in Skopje (phase 3). The intervention was evaluated by trainee questionnaires, assessments of competence, changes in hospital practice and pre- (1997-99) and post-intervention (2000-01) comparisons of PMR.


A total of 115 doctors and nurses graduated from the programme. Positive responses to the education programme exceeded 80%. Evidence-based practice in 16 participating hospitals (covering 91% of all Macedonian births) was verified in 6 key areas of neonatology. The PMR fell significantly from 27.4 to 21.5 per 1000 births (RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.73, 0.85). The early neonatal death rate in babies weighing over 1000 g fell by 36%.


The intervention has increased the capacity of Macedonians to practise best-evidence perinatal medicine and improve outcomes. Sustainability is predicted by the "train the teachers" approach, with concurrent strengthening of the infrastructure and organisational framework.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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