Background: In-service training is a key strategic approach to addressing the severe shortage of health care workers in many countries. However, there is a lack of evidence linking these health care worker trainings to improved health outcomes. In response, the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief's Human Resources for Health Technical Working Group initiated a project to develop an outcome-focused training evaluation framework. This paper presents the methods and results of that project.
Methods: A general inductive methodology was used for the conceptualization and development of the framework. Fifteen key informant interviews were conducted to explore contextual factors, perceived needs, barriers and facilitators affecting the evaluation of training outcomes. In addition, a thematic analysis of 70 published articles reporting health care worker training outcomes identified key themes and categories. These were integrated, synthesized and compared to several existing training evaluation models. This formed an overall typology which was used to draft a new framework. Finally, the framework was refined and validated through an iterative process of feedback, pilot testing and revision.
Results: The inductive process resulted in identification of themes and categories, as well as relationships among several levels and types of outcomes. The resulting framework includes nine distinct types of outcomes that can be evaluated, which are organized within three nested levels: individual, organizational and health system/population. The outcome types are: (1) individual knowledge, attitudes and skills; (2) individual performance; (3) individual patient health; (4) organizational systems; (5) organizational performance; (6) organizational-level patient health; (7) health systems; (8) population-level performance; and (9) population-level health. The framework also addresses contextual factors which may influence the outcomes of training, as well as the ability of evaluators to determine training outcomes. In addition, a group of user-friendly resources, the Training Evaluation Framework and Tools (TEFT) were created to help evaluators and stakeholders understand and apply the framework.
Conclusions: Feedback from pilot users suggests that using the framework and accompanying tools may support outcome evaluation planning. Further assessment will assist in strengthening guidelines and tools for operationalization.