Standardizing Implementation of the Good Participatory Practice Guidelines: A Distance Learning Approach


Description of the Research
Engaging a broad range of stakeholders throughout the trial life cycle is necessary for ethical research. Early implementation of broad stakeholder engagement practices can increase support of research, mitigate the negative response of adverse events, and build or sustain partnerships. Some HIV prevention trials have experienced delays, early closure, or community resistance to research programs and products because stakeholder engagement was not conducted in a systematic way. 

The GPP Guidelines serve as a global reference for conducting stakeholder engagement in biomedical HIV prevention trials. The GPP Online Training Course builds capacity around the GPP Guidelines and culminates in the creation of a stakeholder engagement work plan for research implementers. Major course components include: 1. Interactive modules with animations, practice activities, and knowledge checks; 2. Forum discussions about learners’ real-world experiences with stakeholder engagement; and 3. Weekly work assignments to help learners’ analyze their research contexts, prioritize stakeholders, and develop a GPP implementation plan. 

The first course was piloted September through December 2014, with 12 learners from Africa, Southeast Asia, and the United States. Two course facilitators with GPP expertise facilitated forum discussions and provided feedback on all assignments. Learners completed pre- and post-training assessments. 

All learners rated the course as “very good” or “excellent,” and most would recommend it to a colleague. Learners reported gains in self-efficacy and commitment to implementing broad stakeholder engagement. Aspects of the course described as most valuable were its interactivity, opportunities to share perspectives with other learners through forum discussions, and facilitator feedback on work assignments. Some learners indicated significant time requirement and internet connectivity as barriers for meeting the minimum work requirements. Learners and facilitators reported desire for more peer and group learning opportunities to complete assignments. 

Future course offerings will encourage learners to work with site colleagues on assignments and exchange completed work with other learners to obtain additional feedback and build facilitation capacity. Additional short courses will also be developed for specialized audiences such as IRB members and research network staff across multiple sites. Offline viewing of modules, available, but underutilized during the pilot, will be emphasized throughout the course to address connectivity issues. Site leadership will sign a letter of support to ensure staff members have enough dedicated time to complete course requirements. Trial leadership will be encouraged to enroll staff members from each site into the course to ensure trial-wide systematic engagement.