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BMJ Open. 2017 Oct 11;7(10):e016457. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016457.

Feasibility and acceptability of training community health workers in ear and hearing care in Malawi: a cluster randomised controlled trial.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, College of Medicine Blantyre Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi.
2
Department of Clinical Research, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
3
Haukeland Universitetssjukehus, Bergen, Norway.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the feasibility and acceptability of training community health workers (CHWs) in ear and hearing care, and their ability to identify patients with ear and hearing disorders.

DESIGN:

Cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT).

SETTING:

Health centres in Thyolo district, Malawi.

PARTICIPANTS:

Ten health centres participated, 5 intervention (29 CHWs) and 5 control (28 CHWs).

INTERVENTION:

Intervention CHWs received 3 days of training in primary ear and hearing care, while among control CHWs, training was delayed for 6 months. Both groups were given a pretest that assessed knowledge about ear and hearing care, only the intervention group was given the posttest on the third day of training. The intervention group was given 1 month to identify patients with ear and hearing disorders in their communities, and these people were screened for hearing disorders by ear, nose and throat clinical specialists.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

Primary outcome measure was improvement in knowledge of ear and hearing care among CHWs after the training. Secondary outcome measures were number of patients with ear or hearing disorders identified by CHWs and number recorded at health centres during routine activities, and the perceived feasibility and acceptability of the intervention.

RESULTS:

The average overall correct answers increased from 55% to 68% (95% CI 65 to 71) in the intervention group (p<0.001). A total of 1739 patients with potential ear and hearing disorders were identified by CHWs and 860 patients attended the screening camps, of whom 400 had hearing loss (73 patients determined through bilateral fail on otoacoustic emissions, 327 patients through audiometry). Where cause could be determined, the most common cause of ear and hearing disorders was chronic suppurative otitis media followed by impacted wax. The intervention was perceived as feasible and acceptable to implement.

CONCLUSIONS:

Training was effective in improving the knowledge of CHW in ear and hearing care in Malawi and allowing them to identify patients with ear and hearing disorders. This intervention could be scaled up to other CHWs in low-income and middle-income countries.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:

Pan African Clinical Trial Registry (201705002285194); Results.

KEYWORDS:

community health workers; ear and hearing disorders; training

PMID:
29025832
PMCID:
PMC5652500
DOI:
10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016457
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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