Does child and adolescent mental health in-service training result in equivalent knowledge gain among cadres of non-specialist health workers in Uganda? A pre-test post-test study
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Background: Early identification and management of child and adolescent mental health (CAMH) disorders helps to avert mental illness in adulthood but a CAMH treatment gap exists in Uganda. CAMH integration into primary health care (PHC) through in-service training of non-specialist health workers (NSHW) using the World Health Organisation (WHO) Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) Intervention Guide (IG) is a strategy to address this gap. However, results of such training are not supported by information on training development or delivery; and are undifferentiated by NSHW cadre. We aim to describe an in-service CAMH training for NSHW in Uganda and assess cadre-differentiated learning outcomes.
Methods: Thirty-six clinical officers, nurses and midwives from 18 randomly selected PHC clinics in eastern Uganda were trained for 5 days on CAMH screening and referral using a curriculum based on the mhGAP-IG version 1.0 and PowerPoint slides from the International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP). The residential training was evaluated through pre- and post- training tests of CAMH knowledge and attitudes using the participants’ post-test scores; and the difference between pre-test and post-test scores. Two-tailed t-tests assessed differences in mean pre-test and post-test scores between the cadres; hierarchical linear regression tested the association between cadre and post test scores; and logistic regression evaluated the relationship between cadre and knowledge gain at three pre-determined cut off points.
Results: Thirty-three participants completed both pre-and post-tests. Improved mean scores from pre- to post-test were observed for both clinical officers (20% change) and nurse/midwives (18% change). Clinical officers had significantly higher mean test scores than nurses and midwives (p < 0.05) but cadre was not significantly associated with improvement in CAMH knowledge at the 10% (AOR 0.08; 95 CI [0.01, 1.19]; p = 0.066), 15% (AOR 0.16; 95% CI [0.01, 2.21]; p = 0.170), or 25% (AOR 0.13; 95% CI [0.01, 1.74]; p = 0.122) levels.
Conclusion: We aimed to examine CAMH learning outcomes by NSHW cadre. NSHW cadre does not influence knowledge gain from in-service CAMH training. Thus, an option for integrating CAMH into PHC in Uganda using the mhGAP-IG and IACAPAP PowerPoint slides is to proceed without cadre differentiation.