Obesity is an increasingly complex aspect of public health which impacts the role and responsibilities of those involved in the healthcare of women and children. It needs to be comprehensively included in the education and training of students and qualified healthcare professionals. To this end, a web–based educational package was developed by Denyse King (Lecturer in Midwifery and Public Health Practitioner) to give learners an opportunity to develop the underpinning knowledge and communication skills they require to confidently discuss associated health risks.
A key advantage of this BU learning resource is that it does not require staff to be released from duty to attend ‘in-class training’, the learners work through the package at their own pace. Ultimately, participants are encouraged to deepen their knowledge around obesity and to develop proposals for solutions to this significant public health issue, which seek to benefit the individual and communities in which they live and work. The key value of this learning package lies in helping care providers and those in strategic roles to improve the health of and reduce the numbers of overweight persons.
MaCO has been rolled out to the third year student midwives as part of their complex needs unit with a view to rolling it out to all three years from the 2012/13 academic year. Research is currently being undertaken by Denyse King to evaluate their perception of their learning related to MaCO from an educational perspective and to gauge the potential for improvement in maternal and childhood health as a result of the learning undertaken by the students.
The mixed–methods evaluation will comprise a questionnaire survey consisting largely of quantitative questions, with a few open–ended questions, whilst a sub–sample of the students will be invited to conduct face–to–face interviews to explore specific strengths and weaknesses of the learning resource.