Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 June 2012
Standardized, validated training programs for teaching administrative decision-making to healthcare professionals responding to weapons of mass destruction (weapons of mass destruction) incidents have not been available. Therefore, a multidisciplinary team designed, developed, and offered a four-day, functional exercise, competency-based course at a national training center.
This report provides a description of the development and initial evaluation of the course in changing participants' perceptions of their capabilities to respond to weapons of mass destruction events.
Course participants were healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, emergency medical services administrators, hospital administrators, and public health officials. Each course included three modified tabletop and/or real-time functional exercises. A total of 441 participants attended one of the eight course offerings between March and August 2003. An intervention group only, pre-post design was used to evaluate change in perceived capabilities related to administrative decision-making for weapons of mass destruction incidents. Paired evaluation data were available on 339 participants (81.9%). Self-ratings for each of 21 capability statements were compared before and after the course. A 19-item total scale score for each participant was calculated from the pre-course and post-course evaluations. Paired t-tests on pre- and postcourse total scores were conducted separately for each course.
There was consistent improvement in self-rated capabilities after course completion for all 21 capability statements. Paired t-tests of pre- and postcourse total scale scores indicated a significant increase in mean ratings for each course (all p <0.001).
The tabletop/real-time-exercise format was effective in increasing healthcare administrators' self-rated capabilities related to weapons of mass destruction disaster management and response. Integrating the competencies into training interventions designed for a specific target audience and deploying them into an interactive learning environment allowed the competency-based training objectives to be accomplished.