Although Africa has the highest burden of cervical cancer in the world, educational resources to achieve the 90-70-90 targets set by the World Health Organization in its strategy to eliminate cervical cancer are lacking in the region.
To adapt, implement, and evaluate the Project Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes (ECHO), an innovative learning tool, to build capacity of clinicians to better incorporate new evidence-based guidelines into cervical cancer control policies and clinical practices.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This cross-sectional study assessed knowledge and practices of clinicians and support staff regarding cervical cancer prevention and control and compared them among respondents who had attended Project ECHO sessions (prior ECHO attendees) with those who had not but were planning on attending in the near future (newcomers) as part of the Cameroon Cervical Cancer Prevention Project ECHO. Satisfaction of prior ECHO attendees was also evaluated. Data were analyzed from January to March 2022.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Main outcomes were practices and knowledge regarding cervical cancer education and prevention and preinvasive management procedures compared among prior ECHO attendees and newcomers.
Of the 75 participants (mean [SD] age, 36.4 [10.0] years; 65.7% [95% CI, 54.3%-77.1%] women) enrolled in this study, 41 (54.7%; 95% CI, 43.1%-66.2%) were prior ECHO attendees, and most were clinicians (55 respondents [78.6%; 95% CI, 68.7%-88.4%]). Overall, 50% (95% CI, 37.8%-62.2%) of respondents reported performing cervical cancer screening with visual inspection of the cervix after application of acetic acid (VIA) and/or visual inspection of the cervix after application of Lugol’s iodine (VILI), 46.3% (95% CI, 34.0%-58.5%) of respondents reported performing human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, and 30.3% (95% CI, 18.9%-41.7%) of respondents reported performing cervical cytological examination in their practices, Approximately one-fourth of respondents reported performing cryotherapy (25.4% [95% CI, 14.7%-36.1%]), thermal ablation (27.3% [95% CI, 16.2%-38.3%]) or loop electrosurgical excisional procedure (LEEP, 25.0% [95% CI, 14.4%-35.6%]) for treatment of preinvasive disease. The clinical use of many of these screening and treatment tools was significantly higher among prior ECHO attendees compared with newcomers (VIA/VILI: 63.2% [95% CI, 47.4%-78.9%] vs 33.3% [95% CI, 16.0%-50.6%];
P= .03; cryotherapy: 40.5% [95% CI, 24.3%-56.8%] vs 6.7% [95% CI, 0.0%-15.8%]; P= .002; thermal ablation: 43.2% [95% CI, 26.9%-59.6%] vs 6.9% [95% CI, 0.0%-16.4%]; P= .002). Knowledge about cervical cancer education, prevention, and management procedures was satisfactory in 36.1% (95% CI, 23.7%-48.5%) of respondents; this proportion was significantly higher among prior ECHO attendees (53.8% [95% CI, 37.7%-69.9%]) compared with newcomers (4.5% [95% CI, 0.0%-13.5%]; P&lt; .001). Approximately two-thirds of participants (68.8% [95% CI, 51.8%-85.8%]) reported that they had applied knowledge learned in our ECHO sessions to patient care in their practice or adopted best-practice care through their participation in this ECHO program. Conclusions and Relevance
These findings suggest that the Project ECHO e-learning and telementoring program was associated with improved skills for clinicians and support staff and enhanced quality of care for patients. In the COVID-19 era and beyond, reinforced efforts to strengthen cervical cancer knowledge and best practices through distance learning and collaboration are needed.