Background: New technologies that emerge at the interface of computational and biomedical science could drive new advances in global health, therefore more training in technology is needed among health care workers. To assess the potential for informatics training using an approach designed to foster interaction at this interface, the University of Washington and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia developed and assessed a one-week course that included a new Bioinformatics (BIO) track along with an established Medical/Public Health Informatics track (MI) for participants in Peru.
Methods: We assessed the background of the participants, and measured the knowledge gained by track-specific (MI or BIO) 30-minute pre- and post-tests. Participants' attitudes were evaluated both by daily evaluations and by an end-course evaluation.
Results: Forty-three participants enrolled in the course - 20 in the MI track and 23 in the BIO track. Of 20 questions, the mean % score for the MI track increased from 49.7 pre-test (standard deviation or SD = 17.0) to 59.7 (SD = 15.2) for the post-test (P = 0.002, n = 18). The BIO track mean score increased from 33.6 pre-test to 51.2 post-test (P < 0.001, n = 21). Most comments (76%) about any aspect of the course were positive. The main perceived strength of the course was the quality of the speakers, and the main perceived weakness was the short duration of the course. Overall, the course acceptability was very good to excellent with a rating of 4.1 (scale 1-5), and the usefulness of the course was rated as very good. Most participants (62.9%) expressed a positive opinion about having had the BIO and MI tracks come together for some of the lectures.
Conclusion: Pre- and post-test results and the positive evaluations by the participants indicate that this first joint Bioinformatics and Medical/Public Health Informatics (MI and BIO) course was a success.