Preparing the healthcare workforce in South Africa for short-course rifampicin-resistant TB treatment: inter-professional training and task-sharing considerations

Jason E. Farley, Norbert Ndjeka, Khaya Mlandu, Kelly Lowensen, Keri Geiger, Yen Nguyen, Chakra Budhathoki, Paul D. Stamper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Treatment for rifampicin-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (RR-TB) is complex, however, shorter treatment, with newer antimicrobials are improving treatment outcomes. The South African National Department of Health (NDoH) recently accelerated the rollout of 9-month, all-oral, RR-TB short-course regimens. We sought to evaluate an inter-professional training program using pre-test and post-test performance of Professional Nurses (PNs), Advanced Practice Professional Nurses (APPNs) and Medical Officers (MOs) to inform: (a) training needs across cadres; (b) knowledge performance, by cadres; and (c) training differences in knowledge by nurse type. Methods: A 4-day didactic and case-based clinical decision support course for RR-TB regimens in South Africa (SA) was developed, reviewed and nationally accredited. Between February 2017 and July 2018, 12 training events were held. Clinicians who may initiate RR-TB treatment, specifically MOs and PN/APPNs with matched pre–post tests and demographic surveys were analyzed. Descriptive statistics are provided. Pre–post test evaluations included 25 evidence-based clinically related questions about RR-TB diagnosis, treatment, and care. Results: Participants (N = 842) participated in testing, and matched evaluations were received for 800 (95.0%) training participants. Demographic data were available for 793 (99.13%) participants, of whom 762 (96.1%) were MOs, or nurses, either PN or APPNs. Average correct response pre-test and post-test scores were 61.7% (range 7–24 correct responses) and 85.9% (range 12–25), respectively. Overall, 95.8% (730/762) of participants demonstrated improved knowledge. PNs improved on average 25% (6.22 points), whereas MOs improved 10% (2.89 points) with better mean test scores on both pre- and post-test (p < 0.000). APPNs performed the same as the MOs on post-test scores (p = NS). Conclusions: The inter-professional training program in short-course RR-TB treatment improved knowledge for participants. MOs had significantly greater pre-test scores. Of the nurses, APPNs outperformed other PNs, and performed equally to MOs on post-test scores, suggesting this advanced cadre of nurses might be the most appropriate to initiate and monitor treatment in close collaboration with MOs. All cadres of nurse reported the need for additional clinical training and mentoring prior to managing such patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalHuman resources for health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Clinical
  • Multidrug-resistant
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Primary health care
  • Rifampicin-resistant
  • South Africa
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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