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Comparing in-person, blended and virtual training interventions; a real-world evaluation of HIV capacity building programs in 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.


We sought to evaluate the impact of transitioning a multi-country HIV training program from in-person to online by comparing digital training approaches implemented during the pandemic with in-person approaches employed before COVID-19. We evaluated mean changes in pre-and post-course knowledge scores and self-reported confidence scores for learners who participated in (1) in-person workshops (between October 2019 and March 2020), (2) entirely asynchronous, Virtual Workshops [VW] (between May 2021 and January 2022), and (3) a blended Online Course [OC] (between May 2021 and January 2022) across 16 SSA countries. Learning objectives and evaluation tools were the same for all three groups. Across 16 SSA countries, 3023 participants enrolled in the in-person course, 2193 learners participated in the virtual workshop, and 527 in the online course. The proportions of women who participated in the VW and OC were greater than the proportion who participated in the in-person course (60.1% and 63.6%, p<0.001). Nursing and midwives constituted the largest learner group overall (1145 [37.9%] vs. 949 [43.3%] vs. 107 [20.5%]). Across all domains of HIV knowledge and self-perceived confidence, there was a mean increase between pre- and post-course assessments, regardless of how training was delivered. The greatest percent increase in knowledge scores was among those participating in the in-person course compared to VW or OC formats (13.6% increase vs. 6.0% and 7.6%, p<0.001). Gains in self-reported confidence were greater among learners who participated in the in-person course compared to VW or OC formats, regardless of training level (p<0.001) or professional cadre (p<0.001). In this multi-country capacity HIV training program, in-person, online synchronous, and blended synchronous/asynchronous strategies were effective means of training learners from diverse clinical settings. Online learning approaches facilitated participation from more women and more diverse cadres. However, gains in knowledge and clinical confidence were greater among those participating in in-person learning programs.

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