Improving Healthcare Students’ Competences for Behaviour to Effectively Support Self-care in Chronic Diseases (Train4Health)
Adherence to medication and beneficial lifestyle changes in prevalent chronic diseases is often unsatisfactory, leading to health complications and increased costs that threaten the sustainability of health systems.
Self-management is a key dimension of patient empowerment; it has been listed as established good practice by the European project EMPATHiE. PRO-STEP, another recent European project, has shown effectiveness of self-management in the wider context of self-care, in conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
Behaviour change is key to achieve better self-care in people with chronic diseases and is vital to ensure an active ageing. Health professionals are expected to deliver behaviour change support in chronic patients, to enhance self-care. However, the scientific literature and our needs assessment indicate that students present a skill gap in behaviour change support, resulting from curricular insufficiencies and limited training opportunities. Such skill gap compromises their ability to effectively promote self-care in people with chronic disease. Therefore, there is a pressing need of developing innovative educational products on behaviour change support, aligned with the European agenda on digital transformation in education and training, which encourages open learning resources and the integration of digital technologies.
The Train4Health target group will be nursing, pharmacy and sports sciences students. Community nurses and pharmacists have a pivotal role in supporting chronic patients’ self-care. Sports sciences students were selected due to their increasingly important role in promoting physical activity in this population.
The overall objective of the Train4Health project is to improve health care students’ competences for behaviour change to effectively support self-care in chronic disease through an innovative educational package. The specific objectives are:
- Consensualising a European multidisciplinary competency framework on behaviour change in chronic disease;
- Defining learning outcomes-based curricula informed by the competency framework previously developed;
- Providing tested case studies for behaviour change training in chronic disease;
- Providing a tested e-learning course, as a MOOC;
- Delivering a tested simulation software for behaviour change training;
- Producing recommendations for large scale implementation of the Train4Health educational package.
Seven partners from five countries joined efforts in a strategic partnership for innovating in behaviour change support in higher education (HE). Partners are HE institutions, with the exception of ESU, an umbrella organisation representing students. The team possesses expertise in areas central to the project, such as clinical communication, behaviour change interventions and informatics, plus a track record as and researchers and innovative educators.
Train4Health is structured in 4 phases:
- Paving the way to the development of key educational products;
- Key educational products development;
- Piloting the key educational products & learning outcomes evaluation ;
- Dissemination, outreach and exploitation.
Overall, project activities correspond to the specific objectives stated. The project relies on the co-production of educational products by the target group, academic educators and people with chronic diseases, to ensure that innovation meets students’ and societal needs. Train4Health links education, innovation and research by incorporating in its activities scientific methods such as a consensus technique, surveys, focus groups and qualitative interviews, and by drawing on the team’s educational and research experience. Virtual reality design and artificial intelligence programming will be used to develop the simulation software with intelligent virtual humans.
Results for the students will include improved competences in supporting self-care in people with chronic diseases and overcoming gaps in behaviour change support education, with potential for positively impacting health professionals’ employability and mobility.
For HE Institutions, Train4Health will increase transnational cooperation and the quality of curricula and training, by providing a coherent and innovative educational package on behaviour change support in chronic disease. Digital products, such as the MOOC and the simulation software, will offer flexibility for learning outside the classroom and will cater for individual preferences. These educational resources are equally meaningful to health professionals engaged in life-long learning about this topic, which will further contribute to the project societal impact.
Results for this project are not yet available. They might become available after the project’s end date.