• 1 Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), WHO, 20 Ave Appia, 1211, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2 Student Academic Support Unit, Monash University, 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East, 3145, Australia.
  • 3 United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), UNU-IIGH Building, UKM Medical Centre, Jalan Yaacob Latif, 5600, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Health Res Policy Syst, 2021 Apr 06;19(1):59.
PMID: 33823859 DOI: 10.1186/s12961-021-00703-3


BACKGROUND: Implementation research (IR) can play a critical role in the delivery of disease control interventions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The growing demand for IR training has led to the development of a range of training programmes and university courses, the majority of which can not be accessed by learners in LMICs. This article reports on the evaluation of the massive open online course (MOOC) developed by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases hosted by WHO on the topic of IR with a focus on infectious diseases of poverty. This study followed the Kirkpatrick Model to evaluate training programmes with a specific focus on post-training changes in behaviour.

METHODS: MOOC participants were invited to take part in an anonymous online survey examining their knowledge of IR and how they applied it in their professional practice approximately 1-1.5 years after completing their course. The survey contained 43 open-ended, multiple choice and Likert-type questions. Descriptive statistics were calculated for the quantitative data and responses to the open-ended questions were thematically coded.

RESULTS: A total of 748 MOOC participants responded to the survey. The demographic profile of the survey respondents aligned with that of the MOOC participants, with nearly 70% of respondents originating from Africa. Responses to the quantitative and open-ended survey questions revealed that respondents' knowledge of IR had improved to a large extent as a result of the MOOC, and that they used the knowledge and skills gained in their professional lives frequently and had consequently changed their professional behaviour. Respondents most often cited the problem-solving aspect of IR as a substantial area of behavioral change influenced by participating in the MOOC.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that the MOOC was successful in targeting learners from LMICs, in strengthening their IR knowledge and contributing to their ability to apply it in their professional practice. The utility of MOOCs for providing IR training to learners in LMICs, where implementation challenges are encountered often, makes this platform an ideal standalone learning tool or one that could be combined with other training formats.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.