Commitment to building mental health treatment capacity in Africa is increasing but little agreement exists on strategies to train health workers on mental health or evaluation of training efforts.
The authors systematically reviewed published literature on interventions to train health-care workers in Africa on mental health. 37 studies met the inclusion criteria. Training outcomes focused on changes in knowledge and attitude, with few studies evaluating skill and practice and only two studies measuring clinical outcomes. Quality of study methodology was generally not high, with scarce follow-up data and use of control cohorts. Existing studies provide examples of many training and evaluation strategies, but evidence to draw conclusions about the efficacy of different training techniques is inadequate. Key knowledge gaps include:
- Development and testing of innovative educational strategies
- Development of standardised, competency-based learning objectives and outcome measures
- Training that facilitates implementation of integrated mental health systems
African institutions need to be empowered to do research in these areas to encourage the development of best practices for the continent.