Attitude shifts and knowledge gains: Evaluating men who have sex with men sensitisation training for healthcare workers in the Western Cape, South Africa
Background: Men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa experience discrimination from healthcare workers (HCWs), impeding health service access.
Objectives: To evaluate the outcomes of an MSM sensitisation training programme for HCWs implemented in the Western Cape province (South Africa).
Methods: A training programme was developed to equip HCWs with the knowledge, awareness and skills required to provide non-discriminatory, non-judgemental and appropriate services to MSM. Overall, 592 HCWs were trained between February 2010 and May 2012. Trainees completed self-administered pre- and post-training questionnaires assessing changes in knowledge. Two-sample t-tests for proportion were used to assess changes in specific answers and the Wilcoxon rank-sum test for overall knowledge scores. Qualitative data came from anonymous post-training evaluation forms completed by all trainees, in combination with four focus group discussions (n = 28) conducted six months after their training.
Results: Fourteen per cent of trainees had received previous training to counsel clients around penile–anal intercourse, and 16% had previously received training around sexual health issues affecting MSM. There was a statistically significant improvement in overall knowledge scores (80% – 87%, p < 0.0001), specifically around penile–anal intercourse, substance use and depression after the training. Reductions in negative attitudes towards MSM and increased ability for HCWs to provide non-discriminatory care were reported as a result of the training.
Conclusion: MSM sensitisation training for HCWs is an effective intervention to increase awareness on issues pertaining to MSM and how to engage around them, reduce discriminatory attitudes and enable the provision of non-judgemental and appropriate services by HCWs.