Background: The implementation of screening for rheumatic heart disease at a population-scale would require a considerable increase in human resources. Training nonexpert staff in echocardiography requires appropriate methods and materials.
Objectives: This pre/post study aims to measure the change in the knowledge and confidence of a group of health workers after a computer-assisted training intervention in basic echocardiography for rheumatic heart disease.
Methods: A syllabus of self-guided, computer-based modules to train nonexpert health workers in basic echocardiography for rheumatic heart disease was developed. Thirty-eight health workers from Uganda participated in the training. Using a pre/post design, identical test instruments were administered before and after the training intervention, assessing the knowledge (using multiple-choice questions) and confidence (using Likert scale questions) in clinical science and echocardiography.
Results: The mean total score on knowledge tests rose from 44.8%to 85.4% (mean difference: 40.6%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 35.4% to45.8%), with strong evidence for an increase in scores across all knowledge theme areas (p < 0.001). Increased confidence with each key aspect was reported, and there was strong evidence for an increase in the mean score for confidence scales in clinical science (difference: 7.1, 95% CI: 6.2 to 8.0; p< 0.001) and echocardiography (difference: 18.3, 95% CI: 16.6 to 20.0; p< 0.001).
Conclusions: The training program was effective at increasing knowledge and confidence for basic echocardiography in nonexpert health workers. Use of computer-assisted learning may reduce the human resource requirements for training staff in echocardiography.