This study aimed to design, implement, and evaluate training in early childhood development (ECD) and in the use of a culturally adapted developmental screening tool, for remote Australian Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) and other remote health practitioners.
A case-study evaluation framework was adopted. Two remote Australian Aboriginal health services were selected as case-study sites. Materials review, semistructured interviews, posttraining feedback surveys, and workplace observations contributed to the evaluation, guided by Guskey's 5-level education evaluation model.
Remote health practitioners (including AHWs and Remote Area Nurses) and early childhood staff from the sites participated in a customized 2½ day training workshop focusing on the principles of ECD and the use of the culturally adapted Ages and Stages Questionnaire, third edition. Consistent with adult learning theories and recommendations from the literature regarding culturally appropriate professional development methods in this context, the workshop comprised interactive classroom training, role-plays, and practice coaching in the workplace, including booster training. The qualitative findings demonstrated that mode of delivery was effective and valued by participants. The workshop improved practitioners' skills, knowledge, competence, and confidence to identify and manage developmental difficulties and promote child development, evidenced on self-report and workplace clinical observation.
The findings suggest that the practical, culturally appropriate training led to positive learning outcomes in developmental practice for AHWs and other remote health practitioners. This is an important finding that has implications in other Indigenous contexts, as effective training is a critical component of any practice improvement intervention. Further research examining factors influencing practice change is required.