Objective: This study evaluates the effectiveness of a continuing medical education (CME) program that sought to increase HIV testing of women attending maternity clinics of the City of Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS). The CME program consisted of 14 training sessions given in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000. Educational objectives included increasing patient knowledge of HIV perinatal testing, increasing patient appreciation of the importance of HIV testing, and developing staff skills in educating and counseling women to accept HIV testing during pregnancy.
Methods: The CME program was based on assessment of clinician learning needs and an algorithm of the testing process, both jointly developed by faculty from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health and HDHHS personnel. The algorithm was also used to assess the care delivered. The CME was evaluated by examining changes in the percentage of women tested in the maternity clinics.
Results: In 1995, the year before the education program, 5.7% of women seen in the maternity clinics were tested for HIV. After the program began, testing rates rose to 64.2% in 1996, 65.5% in 1997, and 43.3% in 1998. Given the decline in testing in 1998, additional CME sessions were conducted in 1999-2000. The rate of testing rose to 62.3% in 1999 and 76.5% in 2000.
Conclusion: Cooperative planning between university and health department personnel can create CME programs that alter provider behaviors and service delivery patterns to increase HIV testing. Outcomes need to be regularly monitored, however, to determine the need for maintenance or performance reinforcement.