3-Os/Case Studies/Synergizing capacity building around health conferences

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Synergizing capacity building with health conferences – an intervention evaluation

Abstract presented as individual oral presentation, 3rd Annual NIH Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation, March 15-16, 2010


Despite the proliferation of capacity building initiatives globally, optimizing the dissemination and implementation of research among HIV/AIDS practitioners is still challenging. To address this gap, I synergized professional development programs around conferences. I evaluated this approach at AIDS 2008, ICASA 2008, and IAS 2009 conferences to conceptualize a cost-effective and scalable model for continuous learning and sharing.


Each program began with a customized pre-conference workshop of essential knowledge and skills to a targeted cohort of early-career practitioners on a focus area – prevention, treatment, and operations research. Participants experienced a range of educational methods, including state-of-the-field updates by leading faculty, case studies, group work, research methods and project management. This was followed by roadmaps to navigate the conference, facilitated informal mentoring dialogues with experts, networking, manuscript writing, and post-conference online mentoring for abstracts and implementing action plans. On average, 75% of participants and 60% of faculty provided feedback by online evaluation surveys.


Four broad themes emerged. The vast majority of respondents reported how useful the workshop was in improving their ability to analyze, critique, translate and adapt evidence-based HIV/AIDS interventions presented. Most also found the structured conference mentoring and roadmaps for selecting relevant sessions very useful. Some anticipated implementing what they had learnt to improve their practice. Almost all agreed on the importance of serious conversations with peers and experts to explore the problems of implementing research.


Although a small sample, the results suggest that capacity building interventions in the context of conferences can optimize research dissemination. Nurturing a research culture by ongoing learning opportunities through virtual networks of practice around regular conference workshops can further enhance practitioners’ implementation competence. Hence, expanding this capacity building model can scale the benefits of synergy. The 3-Os is the proposed model to take this further.