15 January 2008
The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis of 2003 provided a new urgency in China in terms of preparing public health staff to respond effectively to public health emergencies. Although the Chinese Government has already carried out a series of emergency education and training programmes to improve public health staff's capability of emergency preparedness, it remains unclear if these training programmes are effective and feasible. The purpose of this research was to evaluate an emergency preparedness training programme and to develop a participatory training approach for emergency response.
Seventy-six public health staff completed the emergency preparedness training programme. The effectiveness of the training was evaluated by questionnaire before training, immediately after training and 12 months after training (follow-up). Additionally, semi-structured interviews were conducted throughout the training period.
The emergency preparedness training improved the knowledge levels and increased attitudinal and behavioural intention scores for emergency preparedness ( P<0.01). The results at follow-up showed that the knowledge levels and attitudinal/behavioural intention scores of participants decreased slightly ( P>0.05) compared with levels immediately after training ( P<0.01). However, there was a significant increase compared with before training ( P<0.01). Moreover, more than 80% of participants reported that the training process and resources were scientific and feasible.
The emergency preparedness training programme met its aims and objectives satisfactorily, and resulted in positive shifts in knowledge and attitudinal/behavioural intentions for public health staff. This suggests that this emergency training strategy was effective and feasible in improving the capability of emergency preparedness.