DOI: 10.1177/15248399231225444 ISSN: 1524-8399

Building Local Capacity in a Low-Resource Setting to Increase Access to Health Care: An Evaluation of Blood Pressure Monitoring Training

Sarah Weir, Cassandra May, Alexa Wills, Erin Van Zanten, Kathryn Nesbit, Alexander Ngalande, Ruth Kanjirawaya
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension are common and largely uncontrolled in Malawi. In this low-resource setting, Community Health Workers (CHWs) can increase access to home-based blood pressure (BP) monitoring. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a CHW training focused on BP monitoring and referral criteria, as well as the accuracy of referral decision-making and documentation. The participants were a purposive sample of all active home-based palliative care CHWs at St. Gabriel’s Hospital (n = 60) located in Namitete, Malawi, serving over 250,000 people within a 50 km radius. This was a retrospective cross-sectional study conducted in December 2020 using both quantitative (descriptive, paired t-test) and qualitative (thematic) analysis. Participants showed significantly greater knowledge on the post-test (M = 8.98, SD = 1.213) compared to the pretest (M = 7.96, SD = 1.231), t (54)-5.0557.475, p < .001. All participants who attended both days of training demonstrated competency on a skills checklist in 100% of the rehabilitation and BP monitoring skills taught. Through document analysis of record books, referral decisions for patients with hypertension were 87.57% accurate and 81.07% of entries (n = 713) were complete. Participants reported the lack of both transportation and equipment as barriers to their work. They reported trainings, supplies, and support from the hospital as facilitators to their work. This study shows that BP can be monitored in remote villages, accurate referrals can be made, and stroke prevention education can be provided. These interventions increase the chances of more equitable care for this vulnerable population in a resource-limited setting.

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