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Self-paced online learning to improve knowledge competencies for hypertension among medical students in Uganda: A pre-post study

Anbrasi Edward, Robert Kalyesubula, George Pariyo, Andrew Peter Kyazze, Xiao Hu, Lawrence J. Appel, Kunihiro Matsushita
PLOS Global Public Health

The growing burden of hypertension (HT) is projected to reach 1.56 billion globally by 2025 and is an increasing public health concern, even for low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) like Uganda, where the prevalence of HT is 31.5%. The objective of this study was to test the effectiveness of a freely available HT online course on knowledge competencies for medical students in Uganda. The online course was developed by a multidisciplinary team at Johns Hopkins University to address HT control in resource-constrained healthcare settings. Students in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of medical school were randomly selected to participate in the online course. Pre and post knowledge tests were administered using an online survey system. Of the 201 invited students, 121 (60.2%) completed the study. Significant improvements in mean knowledge scores were evident following the online course completion for Module 1, Fundamentals of HT (21.9±2.5 to 23.7±2.5, p<0.001), and Module 2, Basics of HT Management (14.9±3.3 to 18.5±4.3, p<0.001). No statistically significant differences were evident by gender or school year. Students who took a shorter duration to complete the course had significantly higher mean score improvement between pre- and post-test (mean score improvement 7.0 if <4 weeks, 3.6 if 4–8 weeks, and 3.7 if >8 weeks, p<0.003). Students recognized information on blood pressure measurement (32.2%) and HT management (22.3%) as the most important concept addressed in the course. A self-paced online course, complementing medical school training, improved knowledge on HT burden and management in Uganda.