XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Expanding capacity for operational research: training of health workers in Peru

F.A. Canchihuaman1, M. Micek2, K. Gimbel-Sherr2, S. Gimbel-Sherr2, J. Zunt2, P.J. Garcia1, E. Gotuzzo1

1Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru, 2University of Washington, Seattle, United States

Background: A top agenda priority of many international organizations is improving the local capacity in developing countries to conduct Operation Research (OR). Creating a critical mass of professionals capable of conducting and collaborating on OR is challenging, as is teaching the skills required and maximizing the impact of OR training programs.
Methods: We developed a model for training of health care workers in OR with focus on HIV and tuberculosis at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru. The educational approach included lectures, discussions, group-work and field-work and provided comprehensive information about the specific objectives of OR. We invited both health professionals working in programmatic activities and researchers.
Results: The training course (5 days), the first formal courses in OR in Peru, allowed participants to pool their expertise in order to identify and prioritize programmatic problems, propose solutions and use suitable OR methodologies. The level of knowledge among participants improved from 2.1 before the course to 4.2 after the course (scale 1-5) (p< 0.001). Skills to design basic OR proposals improved from 2.1 to 4.3 (scale 1-5) (p< 0.001). Most participants (97%) found the course useful for their job needs and reported they would recommend participation to their colleagues. Participants developed short research proposals, most of which were not executed due to an absence of political commitment, resources, time due to work demands, and ongoing support after finishing the course.
Conclusions: A training approach that combines practical and theoretical sessions and includes both programmatic and research health professionals promotes multidisciplinary team-work and improves the understanding of OR. Identifying priority areas in HIV/TB programs prior to the course, allocating small funds, and providing continuing support and mentoring after the course may improve the realization of OR projects. In the long term, institutionalizing the OR training may help to improve local OR capacity.

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