Feasibility of delivering foot and ankle surgical courses in a partnership in Eastern, Central and Sothern Africa
Brown RR., Davies MB., Drury G., Lane J., Lavy C., Nungu S., Munthali J.
Abstract Background Foot and ankle pathology if not treated appropriately and in a timely manner can adversely affect both disability and quality adjusted life years. More so in the low- and middle-income countries where ambulation is the predominant means of getting around for the majority of the population in order to earn a livelihood. This has necessitated the equipping of the new generation of orthopaedic surgeons with the expertise and skills set to manage these conditions. To address this need, surgeons from the British Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (BOFAS) and College of Surgeons of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) transferred the “Principles of Foot and Ankle Surgery” course to an African regional setting. The course was offered to surgical trainees from 14-member countries of the COSECSA region and previously in the UK. The faculty was drawn from practicing surgeons experienced in both surgical education and foot and ankle surgery. The course comprises didactic lectures, case-based discussions in small groups, patient evaluations and guided surgical dissections on human cadavers. It was offered free to all participants. The feasibility of the course was evaluated using the model defined by Bowen considering the eight facets of acceptability, demand, implementation, practicality, adaptation, integration, expansion and limited efficacy. At the end of the course participants were expected to give verbal subjective feedback and objective feedback using a cloud based digital feedback questionnaire. The course content was evaluated by the participants as “Poor”, “Below average”, “Average”, “Good” and “Excellent”, which was converted into a value from 1–5 for analysis. The non-parametric categorical data was analysed using the Two-sample Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann–Whitney) test, and significance was considered to be p < 0.05. Results Six courses in total were held between 2018 and 2020. Three in the UK and three in the COSECSA region. There were 78 participants in the three UK courses and 96 in the three courses run in the COSECSA region. Hundred percent of the UK participants and 97% of the COSECSA participants completed the feedback. Male to female ratio was 4:1 for the UK courses and 10:1 for the COSECSA Courses. In both regions all the participants responded that they would recommend the course to their colleagues. Among the COSECSA participants 91% reported that the course was pitched at the right level, which is similar to the 89% of the UK participants (p = 0.28). Conclusion The BOFAS Principles of Foot and Ankle Surgery course design provides core knowledge, with an emphasis on clinical examination techniques of the foot and ankle, while at the same time, caters for the anticipated difference in the local clinical case mix and resources. This study establishes that by attending the course surgical trainees can achieve their learning goals in foot and ankle surgery with the same high quality qualitative and quantitative feedback in both regions. This would improve their clinical practice and confidence. The multifaceted approach adopted in this course blending didactic teaching, small group discussions, interactive sessions, case-based discussions, cadaveric surgical skills training printed educational materials and feedback helped fulfil these educational objectives. Working in partnership with local expert orthopaedic surgeons from a number of Sub-Saharan countries, was key to adapting the course to local pathology and the COSECSA setting.