Background: Despite significant achievements made towards HIV testing, linkage to antiretroviral therapy treatment and viral load suppression, the Sub-Saharan region of Africa continues to be reported to have the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with over 26 million people living with the disease. In light of the added burden on already overwhelmed health systems due to the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining the reliability and accuracy of point-of-care diagnostics (POC) results is crucial to ensure the sustainability of quality service delivery. The integration of technology-based interventions into nurse education curricula is growing, to help prepare students for the current practice environment which requires access to large amounts of information. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of a Mobile Learning (mLearning) Curriculum on improving the quality of HIV rapid testing services in rural clinics of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa.
Methods: To achieve the aim of this study, pre-test and post-test audits were conducted in a quasi-experimental design. Eleven clinics of KZN, with the highest availability and usage of POC diagnostics were selected from a cross-sectional study survey to constitute the sample of this study. The World Health Organization On-site Monitoring Checklist-Assessment of Quality System was adapted and used as an audit tool to evaluate four key quality components. The effect of the mLearning curriculum on HIV testing quality improvement was determined through statistically comparing pre-audit and post-audit results. The independent samples t-test and the Levene’s test were employed to evaluate the equality of measured variables for the two groups. The relationships between variables were estimated using the Pearson pair wise correlation coefficient (p) and correlations were reported as significant at p < 0.05.
Findings: A total of 11 clinics was audited at the pretest and 7 clinics were audited post-piloting of the mLearning curriculum. The estimated level of compliance of the participating clinics to quality HIV rapid testing guidelines ranged between poor and moderate quality. The mLearning curriculum was shown to have no statistically significant effect on the quality of POC diagnostic services provided in rural clinics of KZN.
Conclusion: The mLearning curriculum was shown to have no statistically significant effect on the quality of HIV rapid testing services provided in participating clinics; however, multiple barriers to the full adoption of the piloted curriculum were identified. The provision of reliable technology devices and improved internet connection were recommended to enhance the adoption of technology-based interventions necessary to improve access to relevant learning material and updated information.