What is it about?

We developed and implemented a web-based training for health care workers in Kenya. These online courses were a blended course format with peer and mentor interactions. We found that feasibility, acceptability and knowledge gain were at least comparable or greater than for classroom-based courses. In this publication, we specifically highlight the reduction in stigma towards people who use alcohol and drugs. Further work from this study will include results from a randomized controlled trial showing clinical improvements of patients treated by health professionals who were trained through this program.

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Why is it important?

The 40% increase in disease burden from substance use in the 20 years between 1990 and 2010 calls for better implementation of existing evidence-based interventions, especially at the primary care level. Successful implementation of these interventions requires addressing the stigma against individuals who use illicit substances, tobacco, or alcohol, because it poses a barrier to effective treatment for those in need. Stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes among the public, policy makers, and health care workers reduce advocacy for adequate and effective services and funding allocations, create barriers to access, and reduce adherence to treatment. Stigma is especially problematic in low- and middle-income countries, where interventions are most needed, because these countries bear the majority of the disease burden from substance use disorders. If implemented, brief interventions would reduce many of the ills associated with substance use, including physical injuries; motor vehicle accidents; and chronic liver, lung, and cardiovascular diseases. Such interventions would improve not only health but social functioning and productivity, thereby decreasing the negative economic consequences often associated with substance use disorders. In this article, we describe the implementation and results on stigma from our web-based courses in Kenya.

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This page is a summary of: Peer- and Mentor-Enhanced Web-Based Training on Substance Use Disorders: A Promising Approach in Low-Resource Settings, Psychiatric Services, November 2019, American Psychiatric Association,
DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.201900201.
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