James Cook University ISSN 1445-6354
Aim: The objective of this study was to explore the experiences and level of awareness among Primary Health Care (PHC) professionals, who were trained and encouraged to participate as educators in a school-based intervention for safe Internet use.
Methods: All directors of the PHC centers of the 3rd Health Authority of the prefecture of Macedonia, Greece were asked to invite their personnel to participate voluntarily in a project on safe Internet use. Participants attended an one-day train-the-trainers course on cyber-safety in order to serve as educators in a school-based intervention in their communities. An evaluation questionnaire was completed anonymously and voluntarily by the professionals one month after completion of the school intervention. The answers to the open-ended questions were analyzed using thematic content analysis.
Results: Forty-six PHC professionals from 13 PHC centers (PHC centers' response rate 72.2%) were trained and served as educators to 30 middle and 21 high schools, reaching 8053 students from urban (22.5%), semi-urban 36.3%) and rural areas (41.2%). The experience was evaluated as positive by all 46 (100%) professionals, who recognized the following benefits: a) acquisition of new knowledge on pathological Internet use, b) ethical reward for raising awareness in students on the potential threats of Internet use, c) revitalizing effect of the interaction with youth, and d) re-enforcement of cooperation and team spirit.
Conclusions: The combined trainee's and trainer's experience could be rewarding and satisfying, contributing in raising PCH professionals' own awareness on new topics that should be included in their continuous educational agenda. Furthermore, involvement of trained PHC providers as educators in school-based interventions could reinforce their role in health promotion within their communities, both urban and rural.