Year: 2023 Source: Cureus. (2022). 14(12), e32481. DOI 10.7759/cureus.32481 SIEC No: 20230339
Background A family medicine team based out of Mayo Clinic, Rochester assembled in 2019 to provide home visits and direct care to underserved populations of patients in La Cruz, Costa Rica. In addition to the provision of direct patient care, our team was interested in conducting a community needs-based assessment to identify an area for provider education efforts and the local providers on a chronic health issue using local feedback and physician data. Suicide awareness and prevention were identified as a priority based on rising suicide rates as well as limited psychiatry services in the area, with some major providences having ~0.60 psychiatrists available per 100,000 people. Our group provided a half-day educational course on mental health topics related to suicide awareness for local health workers. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate any lasting changes in practice, confidence, and knowledge among local health workers attributable to our training and add to the limited research on this topic. Methods Two groups of participants (81) from local hospitals were recruited via local providers and divided into two morning and afternoon groups on a single day. Each group comprised primary care providers, nurses, social workers, and finance officers. Both were given the same educational presentation that could be broadly applied to each various role. Our team provided lectures on mental health, as well as how to improve personal resilience. Locally medically trained translators were used. Pre and post-lecture surveys gathered demographic data, experience with these mental health issues, and confidence in addressing mental health concerns. Pre and post-lecture surveys, including open-ended as well as Likert scale and multiple-choice questions, were handed out at the beginning and end of each lecture to all participants. A four to six months follow-up survey was delivered by email using SurveyMonkey to evaluate retention and impact of educational materials. Results The initial two groups of participants (n = 81) were aged 23-60 years (mean: 43), and 67% (39) were female. Work experience ranged from 0 to 37 years (mean: 14) with 64% (37) doing direct patient care. Preliminary lecture content data from participants (n = 44) demonstrated an overall increase in correct responses by +15.4% from the pre-test (percent correct, 38.1%) to post-test (53.5%, p < 0.01). Individuals (n = 55) with past exposure to suicide were much more likely to report asking patients about suicide than those with no prior exposure (56.3% vs. 8.3%; p < 0.01). At the six-month follow-up with participants (n = 11), when asked about their confidence in learning objectives from the lecture given prior, the rates of low confidence decreased as well as the level of high confidence improved but was not statistically significant. The rate of low confidence of respondents' confidence in asking about mental health concerns decreased from 35.2% to 0% (p < 0.01). Conclusions Our group was able to successfully deliver lectures to a mixed audience of health workers in a region self-identified as struggling with mental health issues in Costa Rica. The surveys suggested learning occurred. A trend suggestive that the educational content improved the participants' confidence and knowledge components over time was noted. Future service trips may be able to build on this initial experience to improve on ways to raise capacity while delivering direct care to regions in need.