CITATION: Hum Resour Health. 2016 Feb 12;14(1):5. doi: 10.1186/s12960-016-0100-4.

Using a mHealth tutorial application to change knowledge and attitude of frontline health workers to Ebola virus disease in Nigeria: a before-and-after study.

Otu A, Ebenso B, Okuzu O, Osifo-Dawodu E.


BACKGROUND: The Ebola epidemic exposed the weak state of health systems in West Africa and their devastating effect on frontline health workers and the health of populations. Fortunately, recent reviews of mobile technology demonstrate that mHealth innovations can help alleviate some health system constraints such as balancing multiple priorities, lack of appropriate tools to provide services and collect data, and limited access to training in health fields such as mother and child health, HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health. However, there is little empirical evidence of mHealth improving health system functions during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

METHODS: We conducted quantitative cross-sectional surveys in 14 health facilities in Ondo State, Nigeria, to assess the effect of using a tablet computer tutorial application for changing the knowledge and attitude of health workers regarding Ebola virus disease.

RESULTS: Of 203 participants who completed pre- and post-intervention surveys, 185 people (or 91%) were female, 94 participants (or 46.3%) were community health officers, 26 people (13 %) were nurses/midwives, 8 people (or 4%) were laboratory scientists and 75 people (37%) belonged to a group called others. Regarding knowledge of Ebola: 178 participants (or 87.7%) had foreknowledge of Ebola before the study. Further analysis showed an 11% improvement in average knowledge levels between pre- and post-intervention scores with statistically significant differences (P?<?0.05) recorded for questions concerning the transmission of the Ebola virus among humans, common symptoms of Ebola fever and whether Ebola fever was preventable. Additionally, there was reinforcement of positive attitudes of avoiding the following: contact with Ebola patients, eating bush meat and risky burial practices as indicated by increases between pre- and post-intervention scores from 83 to 92%, 57 to 64% and 67 to 79%, respectively. Moreover, more participants (from 95 to 97%) reported a willingness to practice frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces and equipment following the intervention, and more health workers were willing (from 94 to 97%) to use personal protective equipment to prevent the transmission of Ebola.

CONCLUSIONS: The modest improvements in knowledge and reported attitudinal change toward Ebola virus disease suggests mHealth tutorial applications could hold promise for training health workers and building resilient health systems to respond to epidemics in West Africa.

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