Comparing the effectiveness of a blended learning approach with a conventional learning approach for basic emergency obstetric and newborn care training in Ethiopia

Muluneh Yigzaw, Yibeltal Tebekaw, Young-MI Kim, Adrienne Kols, Firew Ayalew, Gizachew Eyassu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Lack of trained personnel is a major obstacle to providing the full package of emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) services in Ethiopia and other low-income countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether a blended learning approach to in-service EmONC training could be as effective as a conventional learning approach while reducing costs. Methods: A quasi-experimental study design assigned providers in need of EmONC training to blended learning (12 days of offsite training followed by daily SMS and weekly phone calls) or conventional learning (18 days of offsite training followed by a facility visit to mentor participants). A self-administered questionnaire measured provider knowledge before training and three months afterwards. Provider skills were assessed three months post-training with an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Independent sample t-test and multiple linear regression analysis were used to assess differences in mean percentage knowledge and skills scores between learning groups. The direct costs and cost-effectiveness of each learning approach were calculated. Result: Knowledge scores were similar for the blended and conventional learning groups before training (58.5% vs 61.5%, p = 0.358) and three months post-training (74.7% vs 75.5% = 0.720), with no significant difference in gains made. Post-training skills scores were significantly higher for conventional than blended learning (85.8% vs 75.3%, p < 0.001). After controlling for other factors in the multiple linear regression analysis, providers with a university degree had significantly higher skills scores than those with a diploma (p < 0.001). Training costs were lower for blended learning than conventional learning (1032 USD vs 1648 USD per trainee). Conclusion: Blended learning approach using SMS and phone calls was as effective as conventional one to increase providers’ knowledge with substantially lower costs. Further study is warranted to examine the effect of blended learning on providers’ skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-49
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019



  • Blended learning
  • Conventional learning
  • EmONC
  • Skilled birth attendant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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