Teleconferences are an effective way to train large numbers of doctors, nurses, and other clinicians and to standardize bioterrorism preparedness training across geographically diverse groups, according to a new report sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Furthermore, satellite teleconferences may be as effective as classroom training, according to the evidence report, which was produced by the AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The report, entitled Training of Clinicians for Public Health Events Relevant to Bioterrorism Preparedness, reviewed 60 studies on the most—and least—effective strategies for training clinicians in bioterrorism preparedness, using models such as infectious disease outbreaks and hospital disaster drill training.
Hospital disaster drill training appears to improve clinicians’ knowledge of the disaster plan and allows them to identify problems in plan execution, but the scarcity of studies on this type of training made it difficult for researchers to draw conclusions about the overall efficacy of disaster drills as a way to help prepare for a bioterrorist event. In fact, the report points out that very few bioterrorism preparedness training programs have been rigorously evaluated and provides a framework for developing evidence-based educational programs.
"This information will help health care leaders select educational strategies for front-line professionals who are likely to be involved in the assessment and management of victims of a bioterrorist attack," said AHRQ Deputy Director Dr. Lisa Simpson. "And these important research findings are just one component of the Department of Health and Human Services’ overall efforts to help clinicians prepare for a potential bioterrorist event."
The new evidence report is part of AHRQ’s $5 million bioterrorism research portfolio announced in October 2000. The portfolio includes research projects that are examining the clinical training and ability of front-line medical staff—including primary care providers, emergency departments, and hospitals—to detect and respond to a bioterrorist threat. The research projects also focus on the use of information and decision support systems to enhance clinical preparedness and will assess and improve linkages between the health system, local and state public health departments, and emergency preparedness units.
A summary of the report, Training of Clinicians for Public Health Events Relevant to Bioterrorism Preparedness, is available by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at (800) 358-9295 or sending an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies of the full report will be available in March.