Original Research

Benefits of community-based education to the community in South African health science facilities

Paula Diab, Penny Flack
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 5, No 1 | a474 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v5i1.474 | © 2013 Paula Diab, Penny Flack | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2012 | Published: 23 April 2013

About the author(s)

Paula Diab, Department of Rural Health, College of Nursing & Public Health, Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Penny Flack, Discipline of Speech Language Pathology, College of Health Sciences, Westville Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Background: Community-based education (CBE) is utilised by health science facultiesworldwide to provide a relevant primary care experience for students and a service tounderserved communities and, hopefully, to affect student career choices. The benefits totraining institutions and students are well documented, but it may well be that communities,too, will be able to benefit from a more balanced partnership, where they are consulted in theplanning of such training programmes.

Method: An exploratory qualitative study was undertaken by three South African universitiesin the provinces of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. Focus group interviewswere conducted in their local languages with groups of community leaders, patients andsupervisors at community sites involved in CBE training. A thematic analysis of their viewswas undertaken with the aid of NVivo (version 9). Ethics approval was obtained from therespective universities and health care training sites.

Results: Benefits to the community could be categorised into short-term and long-term benefits.Short-term benefits included improved service delivery, reduction in hospital referrals, homevisits and community orientated primary health care, improved communication with patientsand enhanced professionalism of the health care practitioner. Long-term benefits includedimproved teaching through a relationship with an academic institution and student familiaritywith the health care system. Students also became involved in community upliftment projects,thereby acting as agents of change in these communities.

Conclusion: Communities can certainly benefit from well-planned CBE programmes involvinga training site ‑ community site partnership.



community based education; benefits


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Crossref Citations

1. Assessment of students’ attitude and level of community involvement in community-based education at training sites in Gedeo zone, South Ethiopia
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doi: 10.1186/s13104-018-3940-2