Development of a simple and effective online training for health workers: results from a pilot in Nigeria

BMC Public Health. 2022 Mar 21;22(1):551. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-12943-1.


Background: Health workers (HWs) in Africa face challenges accessing and learning from existing online training opportunities. To address these challenges, we developed a modular, self-paced, mobile-ready and work-relevant online course covering foundational infection prevention and control (IPC) concepts. Here, we evaluate the first pilot of this course, conducted with HWs in Nigeria.

Methods: We used a learner-centered design and prototyping process to create a new approach to delivering online training for HWs. The resulting course comprised 10 self-paced modules optimized for use on mobile devices. Modules presented IPC vignettes in which learning was driven by short assessment questions with feedback. Learners were recruited by distributing a link to the training through Nigeria-based email lists, WhatsApp groups and similar networks of HWs, managers and allied professionals. The course was open to learners for 8 weeks. We tracked question responses and time on task with platform analytics and assessed learning gains with pre- and post-testing. Significance was evaluated with the Wilcoxon signed-rank test, and effect size was calculated using Cohen's d.

Results: Three hundred seventy-two learners, with roles across the health system, enrolled in the training; 59% completed all 10 modules and earned a certificate. Baseline knowledge of foundational IPC concepts was low, as measured by pre-test scores (29%). Post-test scores were significantly higher at 54% (effect size 1.22, 95% confidence interval 1.00-1.44). Learning gains were significant both among learners with low pre-test scores and among those who scored higher on the pre-test. We used the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a common user experience metric, to evaluate the training. The NPS was + 62, which is slightly higher than published scores of other self-paced online learning experiences.

Conclusions: High completion rates, significant learning gains and positive feedback indicate that self-paced, mobile-ready training that emphasizes short, low-stakes assessment questions can be an effective, scalable way to train HWs who choose to enroll. Low pre-test scores suggest that there are gaps in IPC knowledge among this learner population.

Keywords: Africa; Design thinking; Health workers; Infection prevention and control; Learning science; Mobile health; Nigeria; Online learning; Primary health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Distance*
  • Health Personnel* / education
  • Health Workforce
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Nigeria