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Evaluation of practice change following SAFE obstetric courses in Tanzania: a prospective cohort study

Published: July 1, 2023

Categories: Education and Training in Anaesthesia

Language: English


Anaesthesia has been shown to contribute disproportionately to maternal mortality in low-resource settings. This figure exceeds 500 per 100,000 live births in Tanzania, where anaesthesia is mainly provided by nonphysician anaesthetists, many of whom are working as independent practitioners in rural areas without any support or opportunity for continuous medical education. The three-day Safer Anaesthesia from Education (SAFE) course was developed to address this gap by providing in-service training in obstetric anaesthesia to improve patient safety. Two obstetric SAFE courses with refresher training were delivered to 75 non-physician anaesthetists in the Mbeya region of Tanzania between August 2019 and July 2020. To evaluate translation of knowledge into practice, we conducted direct observation of the SAFE obstetric participants at their workplace in five facilities using a binary checklist of expected behaviours, to assess the peri-operative management of patients undergoing caesarean deliveries. The observations were conducted over a 2-week period at pre, immediately post, 6-month and 12-month post-SAFE obstetric training. A total of 320 cases completed by 35 participants were observed. Significant improvements in behaviours, sustained at 12 months after training included: pre-operative assessment of patients (32% (pre-training) to 88% (12 months after training), p < 0.001); checking for functioning suction (73% to 85%, p = 0.003); using aseptic spinal technique (67% to 100%, p < 0.001); timely administration of prophylactic antibiotics (66% to 95%, p < 0.001); and checking spinal block adequacy (32% to 71%, p < 0.001). Our study has demonstrated positive sustained changes in the clinical practice amongst non-physician anaesthetists as a result of SAFE obstetric training. The findings can be used to guide development of a checklist specific for anaesthesia for caesarean section to improve the quality of care for patients in low-resource settings