An Innovative Health Professionals Training Program to support maternal health

About the project

In Europe, about 5 million live births occur each year, and it is estimated that 18% of women will develop depression during pregnancy, 13-20% of women will develop post-natal depression within the first 12 weeks of childbirth, and for 8% of women, this extends beyond the first year.

Many studies have reported that negative affect and depression predict body dissatisfaction and to complicate further these relationships, poor dietary and exercise habits are also likely contributors to depression in mothers, reinforcing negative body image and poor health outcomes. At the same time, there is an established need to train healthcare professionals (HCP) and other relevant stakeholders in how to support the mental and physical wellbeing for mothers of children 0-5 years. HCP and other relevant stakeholders are well placed and motivated to address this issue positively, but many lack knowledge and confidence to do so. Research shows that providing evidence-based training and resources enables them to take on this role.

By implementing an innovative approach for teaching and learning, based upon evidence-based outcomes, as well as to design continuing education and training (CVET) activities that link with the European Social Charter (ETS no.163) and the European Pillar of Social Rights (2017), will ensure a functional project. The objectives of this project are to (i) develop, (ii) test (iii) implement and (iv) disseminate the training package for HCP, enabling them to support the mental and physical wellbeing for mothers of children 0-5 years. A further objective is to produce a functional training programme, reflective of the sociocultural diversity across Europe. The project aims to make the training material accessible to a broad range of HCP and other relevant stakeholders and will do so through multi-mode delivery.

In the partnership there is highly experienced researcher partners (Norway, Sweden) and knowledge mobilisation partner that has extensive VET experience (Norway), Health Care providers and other relevant stakeholders (Estonia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, and Malta) who are highly motivated to implement the training into service provision.

Project methodology and activities comprise

1. A functional and evaluated training material that is based upon research evidence and the needs analysis from the target recipient nations.

2. The training will quickly have an impact through high quality continuing vocational education and training (CVET) that enhances service provision by addressing the need to support the mental and physical wellbeing for mothers of children 0-5 years.

3. Health care organisations and other relevant stakeholders will have access to this open resource material so they can provide continuing education and training (CVET) that will update their health professionals' knowledge in this area in order to maintain a safe and effective practice

4. As prioritised by the European Commission, it is paramount to create a more sustainable health care system that can address that everyone has access to affordable, preventive and curative health care of good quality.

5. The training will be economically viable to implement and at the same time be able to reach a large group of members of healthcare staff, students or other relevant stakeholders. This is due to the methodological design of concrete and focused 1-day training course that emphasis on addressing knowledge and skill deficits in this area.

6. Another significant aspect to consider is that around half of all patients in Europe cannot understand basic health care information, which indicates that health literacy is a fundamental challenge that needs to be addressed (World Health Organization, 2013). Therefore, the project will develop information material for mothers about maternal wellbeing for various societal backgrounds including mothers that have a child born with a congenital disability. Because of the issue of health illiteracy, that material will be developed at EQF level 2 for easy accessibility. In the long-term, the training package together with its implementation plan will be updated and adapted for other partners' operational directives. The project's key products will remain freely available online for a minimum of 5 years after funding, allowing longer-term access for HCP and relevant stakeholders. It is anticipated that the transnational networks and relationships formed through this project will also lead to new training initiatives and projects across Europe.

The project will result in raising a European awareness of these aspects, which adheres to the established priorities of the European Commission (European Commission Communication 'European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe', November 2010; European Commission Communication 'The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion', December 2010).