Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

An Outcome Evaluation of a Perinatal Education Programme

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

An Outcome Evaluation of a Perinatal Education Programme

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the light of the high child mortality rates in South Africa (SA), this evaluation assessed whether or not a Perinatal Education Programme (PEP) delivered its intended short-term outcomes, namely improved knowledge and skills of midwives, in a Western Cape maternity hospital.

Background to the study

Worldwide, approximately 130 million babies are born every year and four million of them do not survive beyond the first seven days after delivery (United Nations, 2001). Developing countries contributed the greatest proportion of these mortalities. The World Health Organisation (WHO) (2005) reported that at least 260 mothers and babies die every day in SA. Most of these deaths are attributed to low standards of maternal and infant care.

One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the WHO initiative is to reduce the mortality rate of children under five years of age from 95 per 1000 to 31 per 1000 by 2015 (United Nations, 2001). The United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported improved mortality rates of 60 per 1000 for 2010 but warned that this reduction was not sufficient to comply with the MDG standard for child mortality (UNICEF, 2011). To attain this MDG, developing countries like SA need to take drastic measures to reduce both child and maternal deaths by improving the standard of care of mothers and their babies (Osorno, Campos, Cook, Vela & Dávila, 2006; Pattinson, Woods, Greenfield & Velaphi, 2005).

Trends from the research literature

Research has shown that one means of reducing the maternal and infant mortality rates in hospitals is to improve the standard of care (Pattinson et al., 2005; Theron, 1999a, 1999b). In order to provide improved care to mothers and their newborn babies, there is a growing need for the continuous professional education and training of midwives (Harris, Yates & Crosby, 1995; Kattwinkel, Nowacek, Cook, Hurt & Short, 1984; Le Roux, Pattinson, Tsaku & Makin, 1998; Osorno et al., 2006). To meet this need, the Perinatal Continuing Education Programme (PCEP) was developed at the University of Virginia, in the USA, between 1975 and 1978 (Osorno et al., 2006). The use of the PCEP has not only spread across 43 states in the USA, but it has been translated, adapted and implemented in other countries such as China, Poland, Indonesia and Mexico (Cook, 1992; Hesketh, Zhu & Zheng, 1994; Kattwinkel et al., 1984; Katwinkel et al., 1997; Osorno et al., 2006). Osorno et al. (2006), evaluated the effect of the PCEP in Mexico. The population for this evaluation consisted of 1421 doctors, nurses and nursing assistants who were working with pregnant mothers and newborns. The sample consisted of 924 who were enrolled in the programme. Sixty-five percent of these programme participants completed the programme. Improvement was observed in 14 of 23 evaluated neonatal practices. The participants rated the learning material as clear and useful in practice.

In Brazil, an evaluation was undertaken which compared the effectiveness of a conventional five-day training programme with a self-directed, five-week learning programme similar to the PCEP (Suely Arruda Vidal et al., 2001). A pre-test post-test design was used to measure knowledge acquisition and ward practice. No significant differences were found between the learning outcomes of these two training methods. However, self-directed learning was found to be more cost-effective and the better managed of the two.

The PCEP has been adapted for South African conditions by a group of experts comprising obstetricians, neonatologists and midwives. It is called the Perinatal Education Programme (PEP) (Woods, 1999). When adapting the PCEP for SA, Woods evaluated whether or not midwives understood the content of the training manuals. A group of midwives volunteered to complete different learning units within the training manual. Woods found that this group's knowledge of maternal and newborn care improved by approximately 20%. …

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