Implementation of ORT: some problems encountered in training of health workers during an operational research programme

Indian J Public Health. Apr-Jun 1994;38(2):69-72.


During an operational research study on implementation of oral rehydration therapy in a block of West Bengal, India, amongst a population of 2, 16,805, a total of 171 Community Health Guides and 152 Anganwadi Workers were initially trained for one working day by lectures and slides about diarrhoea case management at the community level. The training was evaluated after two months and found to be inadequate. The workers were then retrained with modern approach using a module (prepared in local language) as suggested by World Health Organisation. The level of retention of the imparted knowledge of Health Workers for different items 2-3 months after training with lectures and slides ranged between 5-25% except preparation of ORS which was 80%. With the use of modules, 47-98% of health workers could retain the same knowledge 3 months after the training. The knowledge thus acquired were sustained even after 12 months of training to a level which was still much better than that retained 2 months after training with slides and lectures. However some of the items like indication of use of Home Available Fluids, dosage of ORS and when to refer a diarrhoea case to health facility were more difficult to recall after one year. This possibly indicates need for in-service training of grassroot level health workers at suiTable interval.

PIP: In India, the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases implemented an operations research project on oral rehydration therapy in the rural block of Polba of Hooghly district in West Bengal. Its physicians used lectures and slides to train grassroot level health workers about dehydration signs, management of diarrhea, referral of patients with diarrhea to the Primary Health Center, and how to educate mothers in the community about early management of diarrhea. Each health worker received a reference booklet, prepackaged oral rehydration salts (ORS), and a 1-liter standard plastic container. Two months after the initial training, their knowledge was reevaluated and they underwent retraining. A module in Bengali was used for the retraining. It consisted of individual readings, examples and exercises of simulated conditions, discussions, role playing, and demonstration of ORS preparation. The workers were reevaluated at 3 months and 1 year post-retraining. Other than preparation of ORS (80%), few grassroot workers retained the messages delivered via the lecture and slides approach (5-25%). For example, only 5% could correctly identify the signs of dehydration. On the other hand, many more health workers retained the messages delivered via the modular approach 3 months after retraining (47-98%). At 12 months post-retraining, dosage of ORS, referral, and use of home fluids were more difficult to recall than were signs of dehydration, indication of ORS, and preparation of ORS (18-29% vs. 48-87%). These results show that periodic refresher training increases knowledge to a sustained level. The researchers concluded that simple booklets in local scripts facilitate efficient training of health workers in diarrheal treatment services. Each worker should have his/her own personal copy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Workers / education*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Fluid Therapy*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / methods
  • Inservice Training / standards*
  • Male
  • Operations Research