Knowledge of Non-communicable Disease Risk Factors among Community Health Workers in South Africa
Sunday O. Onagbiye1, 2, *, Lungiswa P. Tsolekile1, Thandi Puoane1
1 School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
2 Department of Sport, Recreation and Exercise Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Community Health Workers play an important role in supporting patients with chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), therefore they need to be constantly updated with current knowledge to enable them to perform their activities effectively. The purpose of this study was to assess the knowledge of NCDs risk factors among Community Health Workers (CHWs) in South Africa.
A triple “A” approach (assessment, analysis, and action) was used among 40 CHWs working with patients with chronic non-communicable diseases. All CHWs gave voluntary, informed consent in writing and verbally before they were allowed to participate in the study. For the initial assessment, CHWs completed a questionnaire to assess knowledge about the knowledge of NCDs. The questionnaire was analysed to determine their baseline performance. The findings of the assessment identified shortcomings in the knowledge of CHWs, specifically on diabetes and hypertension knowledge. Feedback was given to the CHWs followed by a short training on healthy living, focusing on the risk factors associated with NCDs (diabetes and hypertension). Training of CHWs was conducted using an adapted national training programme together with CHW prevention of healthy lifestyle modules designed by experts from the School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape. All statistical tests were two-tailed, and p<.05 was considered statistically significant.
The majority (97.5%) of the CHWs who had their knowledge assessed were women. Fifty-five percent (55%) were within age 30-45 years, while 45% were between the ages 46-60 years. The majority of the participants had secondary school education (92.5%) and 1-15 years of experience (97.5%) as CHWs. The results of the post-training assessment revealed that 48.5%, 63.6%, 42.4%, 72.7%, 42.5%, 57.6%, and 18.2% had poor knowledge of diabetes, hypertension, diabetes complications, hypertension complications, advice for diabetic patient, advice for hypertension, and nutrition advice of NCDs, respectively. Regression analysis showed that those with higher education levels were significantly highly likely to be knowledgeable about hypertension complications (OR=19.6, CI=1.14, 336.0).
There was poor knowledge of risk factors for NCDs among CHWs. An association exists between the knowledge of risk factors for NCDs and education levels among the participants. There is a need for regular refresher training programs for CHWs to upscale their knowledge about NCDs, coupled with frequent review of CHWs program and curriculum.
Keywords: NCDs, knowledge, CHWs, Hypertension, Diabetes, South Africa.
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* Address correspondence to this author at Department of Sport Recreation and Exercise Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa; Tel: +27604840456; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org