Knowledge Translation in Vietnam : Evaluating facilitation as a tool for improved neonatal health and survival

Abstract: Neonatal mortality remains a problem worldwide, despite the existence of low-cost and evidence-based interventions. Unfortunately, the translation of these interventions into practice is deficient.The aim of this thesis was to study aspects of knowledge translation (KT) before and during the Neonatal Knowledge Into Practice (NeoKIP) trial in Quang Ninh, Vietnam. Over a period of three years, this trial evaluated the use of facilitators from the Women’s Union who supported maternal and newborn health groups (MNHG) comprised of eight local stakeholders, as an intervention for improved neonatal survival.In the first two studies (before intervention) we assessed primary health care staff’s knowledge and material preparedness regarding evidence-based neonatal care and explored how primary health care staff translated knowledge into practice. The last two studies (during intervention) were process evaluations aimed at describing the implementation, process and mechanism of the NeoKIP intervention.Primary health care workers achieved 60% of the maximum score in the knowledge survey. Two separate geographical areas were identified with differences in staff levels of knowledge and concurrent disparities in neonatal survival, antenatal care and post-natal home visits. Staff perceived formal training to be the best way to acquire knowledge but asked for more interaction between colleagues within the healthcare system. Traditional medicine, lack of resources, low workload and poorly paid staff constituted barriers for the development of staff knowledge and skills.Eleven facilitators were trained to cover eight facilitator positions. Of the 44 MNHGs, 43 completed their activities to the end of the study. In total, 95% of the monthly meetings with a MNHG and a facilitator were conducted with attendance at 86%. MNHGs identified 32 unique problems, mainly families’ knowledge/behavior, and implemented 39 unique actions, mostly regarding communication. MNHGs experienced that the group was strategically composed to influence change in the communes and facilitators were identified as being important to sustaining activities over time. The facilitators’ lack of health knowledge was regarded as a deficit in assisting the MNHGs, but their performance and skills increased over time.This low-cost model, building on local stakeholder involvement, has the capacity to be scaled up within existing healthcare structures.