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There has been convergence of genitourinary medicine and reproductive healthcare services in the United Kingdom to produce “one stop sexual health clinics” such as the Sandyford Initiative in Glasgow.1–,3 As part of service development a number of educational initiatives such as the Sexually Transmitted Infection Foundation (STIF) course have been initiated to ensure that minimum skills and competencies are obtained. Training programmes such as the STIF course coordinated by the Medical Society for the Study of Venereal Diseases (MSSVD) play a vital part in providing staff with the education required to competently extend their roles. The first Scottish STIF course was run in Glasgow in March 2002. The course was developed as a UK-wide initiative to support the implementation of the English national strategy for sexual health and HIV.4
In order to evaluate the impact attendance at the STIF course had on the knowledge of family planning staff, a prospective study was performed in Glasgow. Eighteen members of family planning staff (15 doctors and three nurses) were assessed on their knowledge of vaginal and cervical infections before and after attendance at the course, using four clinical case scenarios with accompanying clinical pictures. A maximum score of 12 was awarded for each assessment. The cases comprised candida, trichomonas, bacterial vaginosis, and chlamydia. The participants were asked to provide a provisional diagnosis based on the history and a clinical picture. The vaginal pH was then provided and each participant was given the opportunity to alter their diagnosis in the light of this additional information. They were then asked about the management of each condition. Within 3 months of the STIF course, each doctor and nurse were retested with the initial scenarios. Answers and feedback were provided on completion.
Two sample t tests and confidence intervals for the difference of two means were employed to compare all participants and the doctors and nurses scores before and after attendance at the STIF course. One sample t tests and confidence intervals for the difference of two means were employed to compare the doctors and nurses scores. As the numbers in the study were small a subanalysis of the results for different grades of doctors was not performed. Table 1⇓ shows the mean (SD), median precourse and post-course scores, and mean difference in scores. The mean increases in all participants’ and the doctors’ scores were statistically significant (p = 0.001, and p = 0.006, respectively). The mean increase in the nurses’ score was 5.0 (95% CI −3.6 to 13.6), however the number of nurse participants was small (n=3).
This study suggests that knowledge increased following attendance at the STIF course. Educational initiatives such as the STIF course are important tools for development of staff working in the field of sexual and reproductive health care. A larger study of this type assessing a wider range of subject matter with longer follow up would enable further evaluation of the STIF courses’ impact on knowledge.