The TDR MOOC training in implementation research: evaluation of feasibility and lessons learned in Rwanda

May 15, 2020 | Hooley

Background: Hypertension (HTN) affects nearly 1 billion people globally and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), HTN represents an unmet health care gap that can be addressed by strengthening national health care systems. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recently funded the T4 Translation Research Capacity Building Initiative in Low Income Countries (TREIN) program to build capacity in dissemination and implementation (D&I) research in HTN in LMICs. The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) at the World Health Organization (WHO) recently developed a massive open online course (MOOC) to train in D&I. Herein, we report on the use of the TDR WHO MOOC in D&I for the TREIN program in Rwanda, assessing feasibility of the MOOC and D&I competencies after MOOC training.

Methods: Participants in one-group MOOC training completed pre- and post-training questionnaires to assess dissemination and implementation (D&I) competency outcomes and feasibility. D&I competencies were measured by use of a scale developed for a US-based training program, with the change in competency scores assessed by paired t test. Feasibility was measured by completion of homework and final project assignment and analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: Of the 92 trainees enrolled, 35 (38%) completed all MOOC components. D&I competency scores showed strong evidence of improvements from pre- to post-test. The full-scale average score improved by an average of 1.09 points, representing an effect size of 1.25 (CI 0.48-2.00); all four subscales also showed strong evidence of improvements. Trainees reported challenges to MOOC course completion that included technological issues (i.e., limited internet access) and competing demands (i.e., work, family).

Conclusions: In the context of LMIC training, the MOOC course was feasible and course completion showed improvement in D&I competency scores. While the program was designed with a focus on training for tropical diseases, there is potential for scalability to a wider audience of health care researchers, workers, administrators, and policymakers in LMIC interested in D&I research in non-communicable diseases.

PubMed Abstract

Hooley, C., Baumann, A. A., Mutabazi, V., Brown, A., Reeds, D., Cade, W. T., . . . Mutimura, E. (2020). The TDR MOOC training in implementation research: evaluation of feasibility and lessons learned in Rwanda. Pilot Feasibility Stud, 6, 66. doi:10.1186/s40814-020-00607-z