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1.  “Quality of prenatal and maternal care: bridging the know-do gap” (QUALMAT study): an electronic clinical decision support system for rural Sub-Saharan Africa 
Background
Despite strong efforts to improve maternal care, its quality remains deficient in many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa as persistently high maternal mortality rates testify. The QUALMAT study seeks to improve the performance and motivation of rural health workers and ultimately quality of primary maternal health care services in three African countries Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Tanzania. One major intervention is the introduction of a computerized Clinical Decision Support System (CDSS) for rural primary health care centers to be used by health care workers of different educational levels.
Methods
A stand-alone, java-based software, able to run on any standard hardware, was developed based on assessment of the health care situation in the involved countries. The software scope was defined and the final software was programmed under consideration of test experiences. Knowledge for the decision support derived from the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline “Pregnancy, Childbirth, Postpartum and Newborn Care; A Guide for Essential Practice”.
Results
The QUALMAT CDSS provides computerized guidance and clinical decision support for antenatal care, and care during delivery and up to 24 hours post delivery. The decision support is based on WHO guidelines and designed using three principles: (1) Guidance through routine actions in maternal and perinatal care, (2) integration of clinical data to detect situations of concern by algorithms, and (3) electronic tracking of peri- and postnatal activities. In addition, the tool facilitates patient management and is a source of training material. The implementation of the software, which is embedded in a set of interventions comprising the QUALMAT study, is subject to various research projects assessing and quantifying the impact of the CDSS on quality of care, the motivation of health care staff (users) and its health economic aspects. The software will also be assessed for its usability and acceptance, as well as for its influence on workflows in the rural setting of primary health care in the three countries involved.
Conclusion
The development and implementation of a CDSS in rural primary health care centres presents challenges, which may be overcome with careful planning and involvement of future users at an early stage. A tailored software with stable functionality should offer perspectives to improve maternal care in resource-poor settings.
Trial registration
http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/NCT01409824.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-44
PMCID: PMC3637082  PMID: 23574764
Guideline adherence; Clinical decision support systems; Medical informatics; Maternal health services; Pregnancy; Prenatal care; Perinatal care; Millennium development goal; Motivation by information technology; Rural maternal healthcare
2.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Background
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Conclusions
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498.
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
3.  EMB1/370: Facilitating Evidence-Based Healthcare: Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Internet 
Introduction
Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) can help physicians and patients make appropriate health-care decisions. However, CPGs must be readily accessible at the point of care and pertinent to the health-care environment. To facilitate access of Canadian physicians to CPGs reflecting the Canadian health care environment, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) created the CPG Infobase (www.cma.ca/cpgs), a comprehensive, Internet-based resource.
Methods
The CMA maintains a database of information on all current Canadian CPGs. Details on new CPGs and revisions, including their development, implementation and evaluation, and on related documents such as quick-reference guides for physicians and patient-oriented material, are added daily. In March 1995 the CMA began publishing online or licensing hyperlinks to evidence-based Canadian CPGs through its Web site, CMA Online, in a section named the CPG Infobase. As the CPG Infobase grew, browsing became increasingly inefficient. In addition, demand grew for information that would help the end-user determine which of several guidelines on a topic would be appropriate in a particular clinical situation. That information was available only through personal contact with the database staff. In 1998-99 the CMA developed a search engine and Web interface for the database to integrate it with the CPG Infobase. Needs assessment and iterative usability testing were conducted with physicians, the primary end-users.
Results
The CPG Infobase now provides fast, one-stop access to information on more than 2000 evidence-based Canadian CPGs. By involving physicians in the design of the search engine and interface, the CMA maximized ease of use while ensuring the functionality needed by the primary end-users. Searching is flexible: novices can use a basic technique, whereas more experienced searchers can easily customize a strategy to target CPGs directly applicable to a clinical situation. The information retrieved permits the user to quickly assess which guideline is appropriate. Then, through hypertext links, the full text or structured abstract of nearly 1000 of the CPGs can be viewed, as can many of the related documents. Ordering information is available for documents not yet online.
Discussion
In an era of information overload, rapid access to a thorough resource containing pertinent, reliable, evidence-based guidelines to best clinical practices is crucial for continual improvement in the quality of patient care. The Internet is an ideal access mechanism. However, acceptance and use of such a resource by physicians, who tend to be computer-search novices pressed for time, necessitate an intuitive interface and a powerful search engine. Quickly determining which of several conflicting guidelines is valid and appropriate in a specific clinical situation remains problematic. The CMA is now addressing this challenge and others related to guideline implementation.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1.suppl1.e21
PMCID: PMC1761789
Evidence-Based Medicine; Information Systems; Internet; Practice Guidelines; User-Computer Interface
4.  An Evaluation of Web-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Managing Problems Associated with Cannabis Use 
Background
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance, and multiple treatment options and avenues exist for managing its use. There has been an increase in the development of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to improve standards of care in this area, many of which are disseminated online. However, little is known about the quality and accessibility of these online CPGs.
Objective
The purpose of study 1 was to determine the extent to which cannabis-related CPGs disseminated online adhere to established methodological standards. The purpose of study 2 was to determine if treatment providers are familiar with these guidelines and to assess their perceived quality of these guidelines.
Methods
Study 1 involved a systematic search using the Google Scholar search engine and the National Drugs Sector Information Service (NDSIS) website of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) to identify CPGs disseminated online. To be included in the current study, CPGs needed to be free of charge and provide guidance on psychological interventions for reducing cannabis use. Four trained reviewers independently assessed the quality of the 7 identified guidelines using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE II) tool. Study 2 assessed 166 Australian cannabis-use treatment providers’ (mean age = 45.47 years, SD 12.14) familiarity with and opinions of these 7 guidelines using an online survey. Treatment providers were recruited using online advertisements that directed volunteers to a link to complete the survey, which was posted online for 6 months (January to June 2012). Primary study outcomes included quality scores and rates of guideline familiarity, guideline use, and discovery methods.
Results
Based on the AGREE II, the quality of CPGs varied considerably. Across different reporting domains, adherence to methodological standards ranged from 0% to 92%. Quality was lowest in the domains of rigor of development (50%), applicability (46%), and editorial independence (30%). Although examination of AGREE II domain scores demonstrated that the quality of the 7 guidelines could be divided into 3 categories (high quality, acceptable to low quality, and very low quality), review of treatment providers’ quality perceptions indicated all guidelines fell into 1 category (acceptable quality). Based on treatment providers’ familiarity with and usage rates of the CPGs, a combination of peer/colleagues, senior professionals, workshops, and Internet dissemination was deemed to be most effective for promoting cannabis use CPGs. Lack of time, guideline length, conflicts with theoretical orientation, and prior content knowledge were identified as barriers to guideline uptake.
Conclusions
Developers of CPGs should improve their reporting of development processes, conflicts of interest, and CPGs’ applicability to practice, while remaining cognizant that long guidelines may deter implementation. Treatment providers need to be aware that the quality of cannabis-related CPGs varies substantially.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2319
PMCID: PMC3799569  PMID: 23249447
Cannabis; Marijuana Abuse; Addiction; Psychotherapy; Standards; Information Dissemination; Health Plan Implementation; Internet
5.  Physician Emigration from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States: Analysis of the 2011 AMA Physician Masterfile 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001513.
Siankam Tankwanchi and colleagues used the AMA Physician Masterfile and the WHO Global Health Workforce Statistics on physicians in sub-Saharan Africa to determine trends in physician emigration to the United States.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The large-scale emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to high-income nations is a serious development concern. Our objective was to determine current emigration trends of SSA physicians found in the physician workforce of the United States.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed physician data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics along with graduation and residency data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) on physicians trained or born in SSA countries who currently practice in the US. We estimated emigration proportions, year of US entry, years of practice before emigration, and length of time in the US. According to the 2011 AMA-PM, 10,819 physicians were born or trained in 28 SSA countries. Sixty-eight percent (n = 7,370) were SSA-trained, 20% (n = 2,126) were US-trained, and 12% (n = 1,323) were trained outside both SSA and the US. We estimated active physicians (age ≤70 years) to represent 96% (n = 10,377) of the total. Migration trends among SSA-trained physicians increased from 2002 to 2011 for all but one principal source country; the exception was South Africa whose physician migration to the US decreased by 8% (−156). The increase in last-decade migration was >50% in Nigeria (+1,113) and Ghana (+243), >100% in Ethiopia (+274), and >200% (+244) in Sudan. Liberia was the most affected by migration to the US with 77% (n = 175) of its estimated physicians in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, SSA-trained physicians have been in the US for 18 years. They practiced for 6.5 years before US entry, and nearly half emigrated during the implementation years (1984–1999) of the structural adjustment programs.
Conclusion
Physician emigration from SSA to the US is increasing for most SSA source countries. Unless far-reaching policies are implemented by the US and SSA countries, the current emigration trends will persist, and the US will remain a leading destination for SSA physicians emigrating from the continent of greatest need.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Population growth and aging and increasingly complex health care interventions, as well as existing policies and market forces, mean that many countries are facing a shortage of health care professionals. High-income countries are addressing this problem in part by encouraging the immigration of foreign health care professionals from low- and middle-income countries. In the US, for example, international medical graduates (IMGs) can secure visas and permanent residency by passing examinations provided by the Educational Commission of Foreign Medical Graduates and by agreeing to provide care in areas that are underserved by US physicians. Inevitably, the emigration of physicians from low- and middle-income countries undermines health service delivery in the emigrating physicians' country of origin because physician supply is already inadequate in those countries. Physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa, which has only 2% of the global physician workforce but a quarter of the global burden of disease, is particularly worrying. Since 1970, as a result of large-scale emigration and limited medical education, there has been negligible or negative growth in the density of physicians in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Liberia, for example, in 1973, there were 7.76 physicians per 100,000 people but by 2008 there were only 1.37 physicians per 100,000 people; in the US, there are 250 physicians per 100,000 people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before policy proposals can be formulated to address global inequities in physician distribution, a clear picture of the patterns of physician emigration from resource-limited countries is needed. In this study, the researchers use data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) to investigate the “brain drain” of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa to the US. The AMA-PM collects annual demographic, academic, and professional data on all residents (physicians undergoing training in a medical specialty) and licensed physicians who practice in the US.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics and graduation and residency data from the 2011 AMA-PM to estimate physician emigration rates from sub-Saharan African countries, year of US entry, years of service provided before emigration to the US, and length of time in the US. There were 10,819 physicians who were born or trained in 28 sub-Saharan African countries in the 2011 AMA-PM. By using a published analysis of the 2002 AMA-PM, the researchers estimated that US immigration among sub-Saharan African-trained physicians had increased over the past decade for all the countries examined except South Africa, where physician emigration had decreased by 8%. Overall, the number of sub-Saharan African IMGs in the US had increased by 38% since 2002. More than half of this increase was accounted for by Nigerian IMGs. Liberia was the country most affected by migration of its physicians to the US—77% of its estimated 226 physicians were in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, sub-Saharan African IMGs had been in the US for 18 years and had practiced for 6.5 years before emigration. Finally, nearly half of the sub-Saharan African IMGs had migrated to US between 1984 and 1995, years during which structural adjustment programs, which resulted in deep cuts to public health care services, were implemented in developing countries by international financial institutions as conditions for refinancing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the sub-Saharan African IMGs in the 2011 AMA-PM only represent about 1% of all the physicians and less than 5% of the IMGs in the AMA-PM, these findings reveal a major loss of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa. They also suggest that emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa is a growing problem and is likely to continue unless job satisfaction for physicians is improved in their country of origin. Moreover, because the AMA-PM only lists physicians who qualify for a US residency position, more physicians may have moved from sub-Saharan Africa to the US than reported here and may be working in other jobs incommensurate with their medical degrees (“brain waste”). The researchers suggest that physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa to the US reflects the complexities in the labor markets for health care professionals in both Africa and the US and can be seen as low- and middle-income nations subsidizing the education of physicians in high-income countries. Policy proposals to address global inequities in physician distribution will therefore need both to encourage the recruitment, training, and retention of health care professionals in resource-limited countries and to persuade high-income countries to train more home-grown physicians to meet the needs of their own populations.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513.
The Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research is a non-profit foundation committed to improving world health through education that was established in 2000 by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
The Global Health Workforce Alliance is a partnership of national governments, civil society, international agencies, finance institutions, researchers, educators, and professional associations dedicated to identifying, implementing and advocating for solutions to the chronic global shortage of health care professionals (available in several languages)
Information on the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and the providers of physician data lists is available via the American Medical Associations website
The World Health Organization (WHO) annual World Health Statistics reports present the most recent health statistics for the WHO Member States
The Medical Education Partnership Initiative is a US-sponsored initiative that supports medical education and research in sub-Saharan African institutions, aiming to increase the quantity, quality, and retention of graduates with specific skills addressing the health needs of their national populations
CapacityPlus is the USAID-funded global project uniquely focused on the health workforce needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
Seed Global Health cultivates the next generation of health professionals by allying medical and nursing volunteers with their peers in resource-limited settings
"America is Stealing the Worlds Doctors", a 2012 New York Times article by Matt McAllester, describes the personal experience of a young doctor who emigrated from Zambia to the US
Path to United States Practice Is Long Slog to Foreign Doctors, a 2013 New York Times article by Catherine Rampell, describes the hurdles that immigrant physicians face in practicing in the US
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513
PMCID: PMC3775724  PMID: 24068894
6.  Motivation and incentives of rural maternal and neonatal health care providers: a comparison of qualitative findings from Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania 
Background
In Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania strong efforts are being made to improve the quality of maternal and neonatal health (MNH) care. However, progress is impeded by challenges, especially in the area of human resources. All three countries are striving not only to scale up the number of available health staff, but also to improve performance by raising skill levels and enhancing provider motivation.
Methods
In-depth interviews were used to explore MNH provider views about motivation and incentives at primary care level in rural Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania. Interviews were held with 25 MNH providers, 8 facility and district managers, and 2 policy-makers in each country.
Results
Across the three countries some differences were found in the reasons why people became health workers. Commitment to remaining a health worker was generally high. The readiness to remain at a rural facility was far less, although in all settings there were some providers that were willing to stay. In Burkina Faso it appeared to be particularly difficult to recruit female MNH providers to rural areas. There were indications that MNH providers in all the settings sometimes failed to treat their patients well. This was shown to be interlinked with differences in how the term ‘motivation’ was understood, and in the views held about remuneration and the status of rural health work. Job satisfaction was shown to be quite high, and was particularly linked to community appreciation. With some important exceptions, there was a strong level of agreement regarding the financial and non-financial incentives that were suggested by these providers, but there were clear country preferences as to whether incentives should be for individuals or teams.
Conclusions
Understandings of the terms and concepts pertaining to motivation differed between the three countries. The findings from Burkina Faso underline the importance of gender-sensitive health workforce planning. The training that all levels of MNH providers receive in professional ethics, and the way this is reinforced in practice require closer attention. The differences in the findings across the three settings underscore the importance of in-depth country-level research to tailor the development of incentives schemes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-149
PMCID: PMC3648439  PMID: 23617375
Health personnel; Motivation; Incentives; Maternal-Child health services; Developing countries
7.  An implementation evaluation of a policy aiming to improve financial access to maternal health care in Djibo district, Burkina Faso 
Background
To bring down its high maternal mortality ratio, Burkina Faso adopted a national health policy in 2007 that designed to boost the assisted delivery rate and improving quality of emergency obstetrical and neonatal care. The cost of transportation from health centres to district hospitals is paid by the policy. The worst-off are exempted from all fees.
Methods
The objectives of this paper are to analyze perceptions of this policy by health workers, assess how this health policy was implemented at the district level, identify difficulties faced during implementation, and highlight interactional factors that have an influence on the implementation process. A multiple site case study was conducted at 6 health centres in the district of Djibo in Burkina Faso. The following sources of data were used: 1) district documents (n = 23); 2) key interviews with district health managers (n = 10), health workers (n = 16), traditional birth attendants (n = 7), and community management committees (n = 11); 3) non-participant observations in health centres; 4) focus groups in communities (n = 62); 5) a feedback session on the findings with 20 health staff members.
Results
All the activities were implemented as planned except for completely subsidizing the worst-off, and some activities such as surveys for patients and the quality assurance service team aiming to improve quality of care. District health managers and health workers perceived difficulties in implementing this policy because of the lack of clarity on some topics in the guidelines. Entering the data into an electronic database and the long delay in reimbursing transportation costs were the principal challenges perceived by implementers. Interactional factors such as relations between providers and patients and between health workers and communities were raised. These factors have an influence on the implementation process. Strained relations between the groups involved may reduce the effectiveness of the policy.
Conclusions
Implementation analysis in the context of improving financial access to health care in African countries is still scarce, especially at the micro level. The strained relations of the providers with patients and the communities may have an influence on the implementation process and on the effects of this health policy. Therefore, power relations between actors of the health system and the community should be taken into consideration. More studies are needed to better understand the influence of power relations on the implementation process in low-income countries.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-143
PMCID: PMC3538061  PMID: 23216874
Implementation; Evaluation; Health policy; Micro interaction; Burkina Faso
8.  Mapping the Risk of Anaemia in Preschool-Age Children: The Contribution of Malnutrition, Malaria, and Helminth Infections in West Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1000438.
Ricardo Soares Magalhães and colleagues used national cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys to map the distribution of anemia risk in preschool children in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali.
Background
Childhood anaemia is considered a severe public health problem in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated the geographical distribution of prevalence of anaemia and mean haemoglobin concentration (Hb) in children aged 1–4 y (preschool children) in West Africa. The aim was to estimate the geographical risk profile of anaemia accounting for malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections, the risk of anaemia attributable to these factors, and the number of anaemia cases in preschool children for 2011.
Methods and Findings
National cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys were conducted in 7,147 children aged 1–4 y in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali in 2003–2006. Bayesian geostatistical models were developed to predict the geographical distribution of mean Hb and anaemia risk, adjusting for the nutritional status of preschool children, the location of their residence, predicted Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate in the 2- to 10-y age group (Pf PR2–10), and predicted prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium and hookworm infections. In the four countries, prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anaemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The mean Hb was lowest in Burkina Faso (89 g/l), in males (93 g/l), and for children 1–2 y (88 g/l). In West Africa, severe malnutrition, Pf PR2–10, and biological synergisms between S. haematobium and hookworm infections were significantly associated with anaemia risk; an estimated 36.8%, 14.9%, 3.7%, 4.2%, and 0.9% of anaemia cases could be averted by treating malnutrition, malaria, S. haematobium infections, hookworm infections, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfections, respectively. A large spatial cluster of low mean Hb (<80 g/l) and maximal risk of anaemia (>95%) was predicted for an area shared by Burkina Faso and Mali. We estimate that in 2011, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 y are anaemic in the three study countries.
Conclusions
By mapping the distribution of anaemia risk in preschool children adjusted for malnutrition and parasitic infections, we provide a means to identify the geographical limits of anaemia burden and the contribution that malnutrition and parasites make to anaemia. Spatial targeting of ancillary micronutrient supplementation and control of other anaemia causes, such as malaria and helminth infection, can contribute to efficiently reducing the burden of anaemia in preschool children in Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Global estimates for the time period 1993–2005 suggest that that worldwide, nearly 300 million children had anemia, that is, hemoglobin levels less than 110 g/l. In sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of all children were anemic, representing 83.5 million children. These statistics are important because anemia in infancy and childhood is associated with poor cognitive development, reduced growth, problems with immune function—and ultimately, decreased survival. Malnutrition (including micronutrient deficiency, especially of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate), undernutrition, and infectious diseases, particularly HIV, malaria, and helminth infections (caused by hookworm and Schistosoma haematobium—which causes urinary schistosomiasis), are major causes of anemia in children. Although iron supplementation can often correct anemia, in some circumstances, iron deficiency can protect against common infectious agents, and giving iron can, on occasion, increase the severity of infectious disease in some children. Focusing on the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases that cause anemia is therefore an important alternative strategy in the treatment of anemia.
Why Was This Study Done?
Control tools for targeting interventions for malaria and helminth infection in sub-Saharan Africa include modern spatial risk prediction methods that combine statistical models with geographical information systems (similar to those used in car navigation systems). However, to date no studies have used these tools to spatially predict the risk of anemia. Furthermore, the contribution that malnutrition and infections make to the overall anemia burden in Africa is largely unknown. In this study the researchers used these tools to predict the prevalence of anemia in three West African countries and to estimate the attributable risk of anemia due to malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used geographically linked data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in Burkina Faso (2003), Ghana (2003), and Mali (2006), which included capillary blood sampling and testing and detailed anthropometric (height and weight) measurements. A total of 7,147 children aged 1–4 years (3,477 girls and 3,670 boys) in the three countries were included in the analysis. The researchers mapped DHS survey locations in the three study countries using DHS cluster coordinates in a geographic information system. Using data from the Malaria Atlas Project, the researchers extracted spatially predicted values of Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate for each DHS cluster using a geographical information system and used previously reported parasitological survey data of hookworm and S. haematobium infections to predict helminth infection risk across the region. Then the researchers developed spatial prediction models using Bayesian statistics to estimate of the population attributable fraction for specific predictors for anemia. Data from the DHS showed that the prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The prevalence of stunting, wasting, and being underweight in the study area was 87.8%, 89.7%, and 71.2%, respectively, and the mean P. falciparum parasite rate, and rates of S. haematobium infection, hookworm infection, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfection for the study area were 52.0%, 26.8%, 8.2%, and 3.6%, respectively. The overall results indicate that in the three countries, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 years have anemia. Severe malnutrition, P. falciparum infection, hookworm infection, S. haematobium infection, and hookworm/S. haematobium coinfection were responsible for an estimated 2.5 million, 1.0 million, 250,000, 285,000, and 61,000 anemia cases, respectively. Central Burkina Faso and southern Ghana had the highest number of anemic children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results add insight and detail to anemia prevalence and anemia severity within different geographical areas in three West African countries. The combination of anemia and mean hemoglobin predictive maps identifies communities in West Africa where preschool-age children are at increased risk of morbidity. The use of anemia maps has important practical implications for targeted control in these countries, such as guiding the efficient allocation of nutrient supplements and fortified foods, and enabling risk assessment of anemia due to different causes, which would in turn constitute an evidence base to calculate the best balance between interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000438.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Abdisalan Noor
The WHO Web site has comprehensive information on the worldwide prevalence of anemia
More information on Demographic Health Surveys is available
More information on global predictions of malaria is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000438
PMCID: PMC3110251  PMID: 21687688
9.  A Systematic Critical Appraisal of Non-Pharmacological Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e95369.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been developed to summarize evidence about the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and facilitate the uptake of evidence-based knowledge by consumers, health professionals, health administrators and policy makers. The objectives of this review was to assess the quality of CPGS on non-pharmacological management of RA with a standardized and validated instrument - the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE II) tool and summarize the key recommendations from these CPGs. Scientific literature databases from 2001 to 2013 were systematically searched and a total of 13 CPGs for RA was identified. Only a minority of AGREE II domains were effectively addressed by the CPGS. Scope and purpose was effectively addressed in 10 out of 13 CPGs, stakeholder involvement in 11 CPGs, rigor of development in 6 CPGs, clarity/presentation in 9 CPGs, editorial independence in 1 CPGs, and applicability in none of the CPGs. The overall quality of the included CPGs according to the 7-point AGREE II scoring system was 4.8±1.04. Patient education/self-management, aerobic, dynamic and stretching exercises were the commonly recommended for the non-pharmacological management of RA by the high-quality CPGs. The general clinical management recommendations tended to be similar among high-quality CPGs. Non-pharmacological management interventions were superficially addressed in more than half of the selected CPGs. CPGs creators should use the AGREE II criteria when developing guidelines. Innovative and effective methods of CPGs implementation to users are needed to ultimately enhance the quality of life of arthritic individuals. In addition, it was difficult to establish between strongly recommended, recommended and weakly recommended, as there is no consensus between the strength of the recommendations between the appraised CPGs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095369
PMCID: PMC4026323  PMID: 24840205
10.  A Systematic Critical Appraisal for Non-Pharmacological Management of Osteoarthritis Using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation II Instrument 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e82986.
Clinical practice CPGs (CPGs) have been developed to summarize evidence related to the management of osteoarthritis (OA). CPGs facilitate uptake of evidence-based knowledge by consumers, health professionals, health administrators and policy makers. The objectives of the present review were: 1) to assess the quality of the CPGs on non-pharmacological management of OA; using a standardized and validated instrument - the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE II) tool - by three pairs of trained appraisers; and 2) to summarize the recommendations based on only high-quality existing CPGs. Scientific literature databases from 2001 to 2013 were systematically searched for the state of evidence, with 17 CPGs for OA being identified. Most CPGs effectively addressed only a minority of AGREE II domains. Scope and purpose was effectively addressed in 10 CPGs on the management of OA, stakeholder involvement in 12 CPGs, rigour of development in 10 CPGs, clarity/presentation in 17 CPGs, editorial independence in 2 CPGs, and applicability in none of the OA CPGs. The overall quality of the included CPGs, according to the 7-point AGREE II scoring system, is 4.8±0.41 for OA. Therapeutic exercises, patient education, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, acupuncture, orthoses and insoles, heat and cryotherapy, patellar tapping, and weight control are commonly recommended for the non-pharmacological management of OA by the high-quality CPGs. The general clinical management recommendations tended to be similar among high-quality CPGs, although interventions addressed varied. Non-pharmacological management interventions were superficially addressed in more than half of the selected CPGs. For CPGs to be standardized uniform creators should use the AGREE II criteria when developing CPGs. Innovative and effective methods of CPG implementation to users are needed to ultimately enhance the quality of life of arthritic individuals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082986
PMCID: PMC3888378  PMID: 24427268
11.  Readiness of district and regional hospitals in Burkina Faso to provide caesarean section and blood transfusion services: a cross-sectional study 
Background
Health centres and hospitals play a crucial role in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity by offering respectively Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEmONC) and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEmONC). The readiness of hospitals to provide CEmONC depends on the availability of qualified human resources, infrastructure like surgical theatres, and supplies like drugs and blood for transfusion. We assessed the readiness of district and regional hospitals in Burkina Faso to provide two key CEmONC functions, namely caesarean section and blood transfusion. As countries conduct EmONC needs assessments it is critical to provide national and subnational data, e.g. on the distribution of EmONC facilities as well as on facilities lacking the selected signal functions, to support the planning process for upgrading facilities so that they are ready to provide CEmONC.
Methods
In a cross-sectional study we assessed the availability of relevant health workers, obstetric guidelines, caesarean section and blood transfusion services and experience with quality assurance approaches across all forty-three (43) district and nine (9) regional hospitals.
Results
The indicator corresponding to one comprehensive emergency care unit for 500,000 inhabitants was not achieved in Burkina Faso. Physicians with surgical skills, surgical assistants and anaesthesiologist assistants are sufficiently available in only 51.2%, 88.3% and 72.0% of district hospitals, respectively. Two thirds of regional and 20.9% of district hospitals had blood banks. Most district hospitals as opposed to only one third of regional hospitals had experience in maternal death reviews.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that only 27.8% of hospitals in Burkina Faso at the time of the study could continuously offer caesarean sections and blood transfusion services. Four years later, progress has likely been made but many challenges remain to be overcome. Information provided in this study can serve as a baseline for monitoring progress in district and regional hospitals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-158
PMCID: PMC4016796  PMID: 24886218
Readiness; Hospitals; Caesarean section; Blood transfusion; Burkina Faso
12.  The challenges of developing an instrument to assess health provider motivation at primary care level in rural Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania 
Global Health Action  2012;5:10.3402/gha.v5i0.19120.
Background
The quality of health care depends on the competence and motivation of the health workers that provide it. In the West, several tools exist to measure worker motivation, and some have been applied to the health sector. However, none have been validated for use in sub-Saharan Africa. The complexity of such tools has also led to concerns about their application at primary care level.
Objective
To develop a common instrument to monitor any changes in maternal and neonatal health (MNH) care provider motivation resulting from the introduction of pilot interventions in rural, primary level facilities in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania.
Design
Initially, a conceptual framework was developed. Based upon this, a literature review and preliminary qualitative research, an English-language instrument was developed and validated in an iterative process with experts from the three countries involved. The instrument was then piloted in Ghana. Reliability testing and exploratory factor analysis were used to produce a final, parsimonious version.
Results and discussion
This paper describes the actual process of developing the instrument. Consequently, the concepts and items that did not perform well psychometrically at pre-test are first presented and discussed. The final version of the instrument, which comprises 42 items for self-assessment and eight for peer-assessment, is then shown. This is followed by a presentation and discussion of the findings from first use of the instrument with MNH providers from 12 rural, primary level facilities in each of the three countries.
Conclusions
It is possible to undertake work of this nature at primary health care level, particularly if the instruments are kept as straightforward as possible and well introduced. However, their development requires very lengthy preparatory periods. The effort needed to adapt such instruments for use in different countries within the region of sub-Saharan Africa should not be underestimated.
doi:10.3402/gha.v5i0.19120
PMCID: PMC3464065  PMID: 23043816
health personnel; motivation; performance; maternal–neonatal health services; developing countries
13.  Speech pathologists’ experiences with stroke clinical practice guidelines and the barriers and facilitators influencing their use: a national descriptive study 
Background
Communication and swallowing disorders are a common consequence of stroke. Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been created to assist health professionals to put research evidence into clinical practice and can improve stroke care outcomes. However, CPGs are often not successfully implemented in clinical practice and research is needed to explore the factors that influence speech pathologists’ implementation of stroke CPGs. This study aimed to describe speech pathologists’ experiences and current use of guidelines, and to identify what factors influence speech pathologists’ implementation of stroke CPGs.
Methods
Speech pathologists working in stroke rehabilitation who had used a stroke CPG were invited to complete a 39-item online survey. Content analysis and descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data.
Results
320 participants from all states and territories of Australia were surveyed. Almost all speech pathologists had used a stroke CPG and had found the guideline “somewhat useful” or “very useful”. Factors that speech pathologists perceived influenced CPG implementation included the: (a) guideline itself, (b) work environment, (c) aspects related to the speech pathologist themselves, (d) patient characteristics, and (e) types of implementation strategies provided.
Conclusions
There are many different factors that can influence speech pathologists’ implementation of CPGs. The factors that influenced the implementation of CPGs can be understood in terms of knowledge creation and implementation frameworks. Speech pathologists should continue to adapt the stroke CPG to their local work environment and evaluate their use. To enhance guideline implementation, they may benefit from a combination of educational meetings and resources, outreach visits, support from senior colleagues, and audit and feedback strategies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-110
PMCID: PMC4015602  PMID: 24602148
Speech pathologist; Stroke; Rehabilitation; Clinical practice guideline; Knowledge translation; Knowledge to action framework; Barriers; Facilitators; Implementation
14.  Associations between Mode of HIV Testing and Consent, Confidentiality, and Referral: A Comparative Analysis in Four African Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001329.
A study carried out by Carla Obermeyer and colleagues examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether HIV testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing or provider-initiated testing.
Background
Recommendations about scaling up HIV testing and counseling highlight the need to provide key services and to protect clients' rights, but it is unclear to what extent different modes of testing differ in this respect. This paper examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) or provider-initiated testing.
Methods and Findings
The MATCH (Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV) study was carried out in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda. Surveys were conducted at selected facilities. We defined eight outcome measures related to pre- and post-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfactory interactions with providers, and (for HIV-positive respondents) referral for care. These were compared across three types of facilities: integrated facilities, where testing is provided along with medical care; stand-alone VCT facilities; and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) facilities, where testing is part of PMTCT services. Tests of bivariate associations and modified Poisson regression were used to assess significance and estimate the unadjusted and adjusted associations between modes of testing and outcome measures. In total, 2,116 respondents tested in 2007 or later reported on their testing experience. High percentages of clients across countries and modes of testing reported receiving recommended services and being satisfied. In the unadjusted analyses, integrated testers were less likely to meet with a counselor before testing (83% compared with 95% of VCT testers; p<0.001), but those who had a pre-test meeting were more likely to have completed consent procedures (89% compared with 83% among VCT testers; p<0.001) and pre-test counseling (78% compared with 73% among VCT testers; p = 0.015). Both integrated and PMTCT testers were more likely to receive complete post-test counseling than were VCT testers (59% among both PMTCT and integrated testers compared with 36% among VCT testers; p<0.001). Adjusted analyses by country show few significant differences by mode of testing: only lower satisfaction among integrated testers in Burkina Faso and Uganda, and lower frequency of referral among PMTCT testers in Malawi. Adjusted analyses of pooled data across countries show a higher likelihood of pre-test meeting for those testing at VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.07–1.38) and higher satisfaction for stand-alone VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06–1.25), compared to integrated testing, but no other associations were statistically significant.
Conclusions
Overall, in this study most respondents reported favorable outcomes for consent, confidentiality, and referral. Provider-initiated ways of delivering testing and counseling do not appear to be associated with less favorable outcomes for clients than traditional, client-initiated VCT, suggesting that testing can be scaled up through multiple modes without detriment to clients' rights.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2007, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a joint guidance document on “provider-initiated” HIV testing and counseling. They noted that previous testing strategies that relied on “client-initiated” testing (also referred to as VCT, for voluntary counseling and testing) had failed to reach enough people, both in high-income and resource-constrained countries—in Africa, for example, at that time, just 12% of men and 10% of women had ever been tested. They argued that many opportunities to diagnose and counsel people that visit health facilities for other reasons are being missed, and that provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling can help expand access to HIV treatment, care, and support. They made it clear, however, that mandatory testing is not acceptable. All provider-initiated testing must therefore give individuals the option to not be tested. In addition, the guidelines stressed that all testing must continue to observe “the three Cs” (informed consent, counseling, and confidentiality) and be accompanied by an “enabling environment” including the availability of antiretroviral therapy, prevention and support services, and a supportive social, policy, and legal framework. A number of advocates have subsequently criticized the guidelines for failing to recognize that health-care services and staff in some countries do not always observe the three Cs. Critics have also questioned the appropriateness of the strategy for settings where antiretroviral therapy is not always available or where stigma and discrimination remain widespread.
Why Was This Study Done?
To inform the debate surrounding scale-up of HIV testing in general and provider-initiated testing in particular with data on “real-life” testing, researchers have since carried out a number of studies. One of them, called MATCH (for Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV), was designed to allow systematic comparisons across African countries of different ways of HIV testing. Its goal was to investigate the uptake of testing, to analyze differences in the experience of testing across countries and modes of testing, and to use the results to devise better strategies to increase knowledge of HIV status and referral to care. MATCH used different means to collect information, including surveys and interviews. People from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda participated. Some had undergone HIV testing, others had not. This study used a subset of the survey data collected for the MATCH study and asked whether there were systematic differences depending on the type of testing people had experienced.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The data the researchers used were from 2,116 people who had undergone testing in the two previous years at different facilities in the four countries. The different facilities were grouped into three “modes” of testing: VCT-only testing, integrated testing (which included hospitals and other medical facilities where provider-initiated and client-initiated testing were both available, along with other medical services), and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) testing at medical facilities offering services to pregnant women. Analyzing the survey responses, the researchers categorized them as related to eight different “outcomes”: pre-test meeting, pre-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfaction with the person-to-person interactions, post-test meeting to receive results, post-test counseling, and referral to care.
They found that across countries and different facilities, the majority of participants reported having received most of the testing-related services. More than 90% reported having a pre-test meeting, and around 80% were satisfied with the personal interactions, with the consent process, and with confidentiality. About 50% of participants reported receiving all post-test services, and 71% of those who had tested positive for HIV reported appropriate referral to care.
When they looked for differences between different modes of testing, the researchers found that while they existed, they did not consistently favor one mode over another. Some outcomes scored higher in VCT facilities, some in PMTCT facilities, and some in integrated facilities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
While there is room for improvement in HIV testing services (especially post-test services) across the countries and facilities included, the study did not reveal major problems with consent or confidentiality. The results also suggest that services at PMTCT and integrated facilities are not any worse than those at VCT-only sites. It seems therefore reasonable to continue expanding access to HIV testing and to include all facilities in the scale-up. That said, this is only one of a number of studies examining issues surrounding HIV testing, and decisions should be based on all available evidence. The results here are consistent with some of the other studies, but there are also reports that counseling might become neglected as testing is scaled up, and that offering testing routinely at every doctor's visit makes it seem mandatory even if there is the possibility to “opt out.” Other analyses of the MATCH study use in-depth interviews to understand in more detail the feelings, experiences, and attitudes of participants who have been tested as well as those who have not been tested. It will be important to see whether their results are consistent with the ones here, which are based on a survey of people who have been tested.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001329.
WHO has published a toolkit for scaling up HIV testing and counseling services in resource-limited settings, as well as the report Service Delivery Approaches to HIV Testing and Counselling (HSC): A Strategic HTC Programme Framework
In response to reactions to the 2007 joint WHO/UNAIDS guidelines Guidance on Provider-Initiated HIV Testing and Counselling in Health Facilities, the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights issued a Statement and Recommendations on Scaling up HIV Testing and Counselling
The NAM/aidsmap website has a section on HIV testing policies and guidelines.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001329
PMCID: PMC3479110  PMID: 23109914
15.  Production and quality of clinical practice guidelines in Argentina (1994–2004): a cross-sectional study 
Background
In the last decades, a sustained increment of Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) production in the world has been accompanied by a growing concern about their quality. Many studies related to quality assessment of guidelines produced in High Income Countries were published; however, evidence on this topic is scarce in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). The objectives of this research were: a) to describe guideline production in Argentina at different levels of the health system (macro, meso and micro) from 1994 to 2004; and b) to assess their quality by using the AGREE instrument.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was undertaken to describe guidelines production in Argentina between 1994 and 2004. CPG were identified through Internet and electronic databases (MEDLINE and LILACS). Explicit inclusion and exclusion criteria were used to select guidelines. Each CPG was independently assessed by two reviewers using the AGREE instrument. Domain scores were calculated as recommended by the AGREE Collaboration. The internal consistency of each domain was evaluated using Cronbach's alpha and inter-observer agreement by the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC).
Results
A total amount of 431 potential CPG were identified, but only 144 were considered CPG. At the end, 101 CPG were included for further assessment. Median standardized score for each domain were: scope = 39%; stakeholder involvement = 13%; rigour of development = 10%; clarity = 42%; applicability = 6%; editorial independence = 0%. Only 22 CPG were recommended with modifications by both appraisers. ICC and Cronbach's alpha for each domain were in all cases moderate or high (greater than 0.40), except for editorial independence.
Conclusion
This study has systematically employed the AGREE instrument for the critical assessment of guidelines produced in a LMIC. Guideline development and diffusion in Argentina from 1994 to 2004 shows a constant increment, although quality of reporting did not improve; moreover, in some aspects it seemed to decline. Much room for improvement of the guideline development process was found at all levels of the health system.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-3-43
PMCID: PMC2572637  PMID: 18851739
16.  Health workers’ knowledge of and attitudes towards computer applications in rural African health facilities 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.24534.
Background
The QUALMAT (Quality of Maternal and Prenatal Care: Bridging the Know-do Gap) project has introduced an electronic clinical decision support system (CDSS) for pre-natal and maternal care services in rural primary health facilities in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Tanzania.
Objective
To report an assessment of health providers’ computer knowledge, experience, and attitudes prior to the implementation of the QUALMAT electronic CDSS.
Design
A cross-sectional study was conducted with providers in 24 QUALMAT project sites. Information was collected using structured questionnaires. Chi-squared tests and one-way ANOVA describe the association between computer knowledge, attitudes, and other factors. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted to gain further insights.
Results
A total of 108 providers responded, 63% were from Tanzania and 37% from Ghana. The mean age was 37.6 years, and 79% were female. Only 40% had ever used computers, and 29% had prior computer training. About 80% were computer illiterate or beginners. Educational level, age, and years of work experience were significantly associated with computer knowledge (p<0.01). Most (95.3%) had positive attitudes towards computers – average score (±SD) of 37.2 (±4.9). Females had significantly lower scores than males. Interviews and group discussions showed that although most were lacking computer knowledge and experience, they were optimistic about overcoming challenges associated with the introduction of computers in their workplace.
Conclusions
Given the low levels of computer knowledge among rural health workers in Africa, it is important to provide adequate training and support to ensure the successful uptake of electronic CDSSs in these settings. The positive attitudes to computers found in this study underscore that also rural care providers are ready to use such technology.
doi:10.3402/gha.v7.24534
PMCID: PMC4212075  PMID: 25361721
computers; computer knowledge; attitude towards computers; rural health services; health personnel; maternal health services; sub-Saharan Africa
17.  WHO Essential Medicines Policies and Use in Developing and Transitional Countries: An Analysis of Reported Policy Implementation and Medicines Use Surveys 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(9):e1001724.
Kathleen Holloway and David Henry evaluate whether countries that report having implemented WHO essential medicines policies have higher quality use of medicines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Suboptimal medicine use is a global public health problem. For 35 years the World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted essential medicines policies to improve quality use of medicines (QUM), but evidence of their effectiveness is lacking, and uptake by countries remains low. Our objective was to determine whether WHO essential medicines policies are associated with better QUM.
Methods and Findings
We compared results from independently conducted medicines use surveys in countries that did versus did not report implementation of WHO essential medicines policies. We extracted survey data on ten validated QUM indicators and 36 self-reported policy implementation variables from WHO databases for 2002–2008. We calculated the average difference (as percent) for the QUM indicators between countries reporting versus not reporting implementation of specific policies. Policies associated with positive effects were included in a regression of a composite QUM score on total numbers of implemented policies. Data were available for 56 countries. Twenty-seven policies were associated with better use of at least two percentage points. Eighteen policies were associated with significantly better use (unadjusted p<0.05), of which four were associated with positive differences of 10% or more: undergraduate training of doctors in standard treatment guidelines, undergraduate training of nurses in standard treatment guidelines, the ministry of health having a unit promoting rational use of medicines, and provision of essential medicines free at point of care to all patients. In regression analyses national wealth was positively associated with the composite QUM score and the number of policies reported as being implemented in that country. There was a positive correlation between the number of policies (out of the 27 policies with an effect size of 2% or more) that countries reported implementing and the composite QUM score (r = 0.39, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.59, p = 0.003). This correlation weakened but remained significant after inclusion of national wealth in multiple linear regression analyses. Multiple policies were more strongly associated with the QUM score in the 28 countries with gross national income per capita below the median value (US$2,333) (r = 0.43, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.69, p = 0.023) than in the 28 countries with values above the median (r = 0.22, 95% CI −0.15 to 0.56, p = 0.261). The main limitations of the study are the reliance on self-report of policy implementation and measures of medicine use from small surveys. While the data can be used to explore the association of essential medicines policies with medicine use, they cannot be used to compare or benchmark individual country performance.
Conclusions
WHO essential medicines policies are associated with improved QUM, particularly in low-income countries.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The widespread availability of effective medicines, particularly those used to treat infectious diseases, has been largely responsible for a doubling in the average global life expectancy over the past century. However, the suboptimal use (overuse and underuse) of medicines is an ongoing global public health problem. The unnecessary use of medicines (for example, the use of antibiotics for sore throats caused by viruses) needlessly consumes scarce resources and has undesirable effects such as encouraging the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Conversely, underuse deprives people of the undisputed benefits of many medicines. Since 1977, to help optimize medicine use, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advocated the concept of “essential medicines” and has developed policies to promote the quality use of medicines (QUM). Essential medicines are drugs that satisfy the priority needs of the human population and that should always be available to communities in adequate amounts of assured quality, in the appropriate dosage forms, and at an affordable price. Policies designed to promote QUM include recommendations that medicines should be free at the point of care and that all health care professionals should be educated about the WHO list of essential medicines (which is revised every two years) throughout their careers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Surveys of WHO member countries undertaken in 2003 and 2007 suggest that the implementation of WHO policies designed to promote QUM is patchy. Moreover, little is known about whether these policies are effective, particularly in middle- and low-income countries. For most of these countries, it is not known whether any of the policies affect validated QUM indicators such as the percentage of patients prescribed antibiotics (a lower percentage indicates better use of medicines) or the percentage of patients treated in compliance with national treatment guidelines (a higher percentage indicates better use of medicines). Here, the researchers analyze data from policy implementation questionnaires and medicine use surveys to determine whether implementation of WHO essential medicines policies is associated with improved QUM in low- and middle-income countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted data on ten validated QUM indicators and on implementation of 36 policy variables from WHO databases for 2002–2008 and compared the average differences for the QUM indicators between low- and middle-income countries that did versus did not report implementation of specific WHO policies for QUM. Among 56 countries for which data were available, 27 policies were associated with improved QUM. Four policies were particularly effective, namely, doctors' undergraduate training in standard treatment guidelines, nurses' undergraduate training in standard treatment guidelines, the existence of a ministry of health department promoting the rational use of medicines, and the provision of essential medicines free to all patients at point of care. The researchers also analyzed correlations between how many of the 27 effective policies were implemented in a country and a composite QUM score. As national wealth increased, both the composite QUM score of a country and the reported number of policies implemented by the country increased. There was also a positive correlation between the numbers of policies that countries reported implementing and their composite QUM score. Finally, the implementation of multiple policies was more strongly associated with the composite QUM score in countries with a gross national income per capita below the average for the study countries than in countries with a gross national income above the average.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that between 2002 and 2008, the reported implementation of WHO essential medicines policies was associated with better QUM across low- and middle-income countries. These findings also reveal a positive correlation between the number of policies that countries report implementing and their QUM. Notably, this correlation was strongest in the countries with the lowest per capita national wealth levels, which underscores the importance of essential medicines policies in low-income countries. Because of the nature of the data available to the researchers, these findings do not show that the implementation of WHO policies actually causes improvements in QUM. Moreover, the age of the data, the reliance on self-report of policy implementation, and the small sample sizes of the medicine use surveys may all have introduced some inaccuracies into these findings. Nevertheless, overall, these findings suggest that WHO should continue to develop its medicine policies and to collect data on medicine use as part of its core functions.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001724.
The World Health Organization provides information about essential medicines; its latest lists of essential medicines are available on the Internet; information about WHO policies to improve the quality use of medicines is also available (in several languages)
The International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs designs, tests, and disseminates effective strategies to improve the way drugs are prescribed, dispensed, and used, particularly in resource-poor countries
The essentialdrugs.org website helps health care professionals, researchers, and policy makers obtain and discuss current information on essential drugs, policy, program activities, education, and training (available in several languages); the website is run by Satellife, which aims to use technology to connect health workers in resource-limited countries to each other and to up-to-date clinical and public health content
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001724
PMCID: PMC4165598  PMID: 25226527
18.  Impact of an electronic clinical decision support system on workflow in antenatal care: the QUALMAT eCDSS in rural health care facilities in Ghana and Tanzania 
Global Health Action  2015;8:10.3402/gha.v8.25756.
Background
The implementation of new technology can interrupt established workflows in health care settings. The Quality of Maternal Care (QUALMAT) project has introduced an electronic clinical decision support system (eCDSS) for antenatal care (ANC) and delivery in rural primary health care facilities in Africa.
Objective
This study was carried out to investigate the influence of the QUALMAT eCDSS on the workflow of health care workers in rural primary health care facilities in Ghana and Tanzania.
Design
A direct observation, time-and-motion study on ANC processes was conducted using a structured data sheet with predefined major task categories. The duration and sequence of tasks performed during ANC visits were observed, and changes after the implementation of the eCDSS were analyzed.
Results
In 24 QUALMAT study sites, 214 observations of ANC visits (144 in Ghana, 70 in Tanzania) were carried out at baseline and 148 observations (104 in Ghana, 44 in Tanzania) after the software was implemented in 12 of those sites. The median time spent combined for all centers in both countries to provide ANC at baseline was 6.5 min [interquartile range (IQR) =4.0–10.6]. Although the time spent on ANC increased in Tanzania and Ghana after the eCDSS implementation as compared to baseline, overall there was no significant increase in time used for ANC activities (0.51 min, p=0.06 in Ghana; and 0.54 min, p=0.26 in Tanzania) as compared to the control sites without the eCDSS. The percentage of medical history taking in women who had subsequent examinations increased after eCDSS implementation from 58.2% (39/67) to 95.3% (61/64) p<0.001 in Ghana but not in Tanzania [from 65.4% (17/26) to 71.4% (15/21) p=0.70].
Conclusions
The QUALMAT eCDSS does not increase the time needed for ANC but partly streamlined workflow at sites in Ghana, showing the potential of such a system to influence quality of care positively.
doi:10.3402/gha.v8.25756
PMCID: PMC4309829  PMID: 25630707
electronic clinical decision support system; workflow; antenatal care; health care providers; sequence of events; rural setting; developing countries; sub-Saharan Africa
19.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
Background
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Conclusions
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018.
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
20.  Pediatricians’ perceptions of clinical practice guidelines 
Background
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) are propositions for health care providers about the care of patients and are usually described as “systematically developed statements to assist practitioners’ and patients’ decisions about appropriate health care for specific circumstances”.
Objectives
The purpose of this study was to investigate pediatricians’ perceptions of clinical practice guidelines at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) in Qatar.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted at HMC between May 1 and August 31, 2013 using a self-administered questionnaire that was distributed to 240 pediatricians.
Results
A total of 169/240 questionnaires were completed for a response rate of 70.4%. Our main finding was that pediatricians at all levels are familiar with CPGs and use them. In addition, our doctors believe that CPGs lead to good quality of care, are practical, provide standardized patient care, will keep them up-to-date, decrease the rate of litigation, are evidence-based, do not restrict continuity of self-education, do not alter physician esteem, lead to improvement of outcome, and are practical. However, barriers that might impede pediatricians’ use of CPGs are that CPGs affect their clinical judgment, do not match with their practice style, and do not reduce health care costs.
Conclusions
Pediatricians at HMC have positive perceptions of CPGs. The results of our study suggest that CPGs are likely to be implemented if more counseling and education are provided to pediatricians regarding the usefulness of evidence-based guidelines. In addition, a program should be initialized to remove barriers while simultaneously addressing physicians’ concerns.
doi:10.2147/JMDH.S66147
PMCID: PMC4130713  PMID: 25125984
clinical practice guidelines; pediatrics; perception
21.  A Systematic Review of Recent Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Diagnosis, Assessment and Management of Hypertension 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53744.
Background
Despite the availability of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs), optimal hypertension control is not achieved in many parts of the world; one of the challenges is the volume of guidelines on this topic and their variable quality. To systematically review the quality, methodology, and consistency of recommendations of recently-developed national CPGs on the diagnosis, assessment and the management of hypertension.
Methodology/Principal Findings
MEDLINE, EMBASE, guidelines' websites and Google were searched for CPGs written in English on the general management of hypertension in any clinical setting published between January 2006 and September 2011. Four raters independently appraised each CPG using the AGREE-II instrument and 2 reviewers independently extracted the data. Conflicts were resolved by discussion or the involvement of an additional reviewer. Eleven CPGs were identified. The overall quality ranged from 2.5 to 6 out of 7 on the AGREE-II tool. The highest scores were for “clarity of presentation” (44.4% −88.9%) and the lowest were for “rigour of development” (8.3%–30% for 9 CGPs). None of them clearly reported being newly developed or adapted. Only one reported having a patient representative in its development team. Systematic reviews were not consistently used and only 2 up-to-date Cochrane reviews were cited. Two CPGs graded some recommendations and related that to levels (but not quality) of evidence. The CPGs' recommendations on assessment and non-pharmacological management were fairly consistent. Guidelines varied in the selection of first-line treatment, adjustment of therapy and drug combinations. Important specific aspects of care (e.g. resistant hypertension) were ignored by 6/11 CPGs. The CPGs varied in methodological quality, suggesting that their implementation might not result in less variation of care or in better health-related outcomes.
Conclusions/Significance
More efforts are needed to promote the realistic approach of localization or local adaptation of existing high-quality CPGs to the national context.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053744
PMCID: PMC3547930  PMID: 23349738
22.  No global consensus: a cross-sectional survey of maternal weight policies 
Background
Growing evidence suggests that maternal prepregnancy weight and gestational weight gain are risk factors for perinatal complications and subsequent maternal and child health. Postpartum weight retention is also associated with adverse birth outcomes and maternal obesity. Clinical guidelines addressing healthy weight before, during, and after pregnancy have been introduced in some countries, but at present a systematic accounting for these policies has not been conducted. The objective of the present study was to conduct a cross-national comparison of maternal weight guidelines.
Methods
This cross sectional survey administered a questionnaire online to key informants with expertise on the subject of maternal weight to assess the presence and content of preconceptional, pregnancy and postpartum maternal weight guidelines, their rationale and availability. We searched 195 countries, identified potential informants in 80 and received surveys representing 66 countries. We estimated the proportion of countries with guidelines by region, income, and formal or informal policy, and described and compared guideline content, including a rubric to assess presence or absence of 4 guidelines: encourage healthy preconceptional weight, antenatal weighing, encourage appropriate gestational gain, and encourage attainment of healthy postpartum weight.
Results
Fifty-three countries reported either a formal or informal policy regarding maternal weight. The majority of these policies included guidelines to assess maternal weight at the first prenatal visit (90%), to monitor gestational weight gain during pregnancy (81%), and to provide recommendations to women about healthy gestational weight gain (62%). Guidelines related to preconceptional (42%) and postpartum (13%) weight were less common. Only 8% of countries reported policies that included all 4 fundamental guidelines. Guideline content and rationale varied considerably between countries, and respondents perceived that within their country, policies were not widely known.
Conclusions
These results suggest that maternal weight is a concern throughout the world. However, we found a lack of international consensus on the content of guidelines. Further research is needed to understand which recommendations or interventions work best with respect to maternal weight in different country settings, and how pregnancy weight policies impact clinical practices and health outcomes for the mother and child.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-167
PMCID: PMC4031379  PMID: 24884985
Maternal weight policies; Key informant; International
23.  Maternal and perinatal guideline development in hospitals in South East Asia: results from the SEA-ORCHID project 
Background
Recognising the potential of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to improve practice, one of the strategies of the SEA-ORCHID project was to facilitate the development of evidence-based CPGs, and to support clinical staff in each of the four countries to build their skills in development of CPGs in the nine participating hospitals in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia. This study was undertaken to investigate the impact of the SEA-ORCHID project on development of evidence-based CPGs.
Methods
Data on the CPGs available to support maternal and perinatal healthcare were collected by SEA-ORCHID team members at each hospital before and after the intervention period of the project.
Results
There were only a few evidence-based CPGs available in the SEA-ORCHID hospitals before the intervention period. After the intervention period, in the SEA-ORCHID hospitals in Malaysia and Indonesia there was no change in evidence-based CPG development activity in maternal and perinatal care. In Thailand and The Philippines there was a small increase in evidence-based CPG development activity in maternal and perinatal care.
Conclusion
Despite the wide range of interventions to support evidence-based CPG development implemented in the hospitals participating in the SEA-ORCHID, very little change was seen in the development of evidence-based CPGs.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-7-9
PMCID: PMC2683834  PMID: 19422715
24.  Experiencing challenges when implementing Active Management of Third Stage of Labor (AMTSL): a qualitative study with midwives in Accra, Ghana 
Background
Post-partum hemorrhage (PPH) is the major cause of maternal mortality in Ghana and worldwide. Active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL) is a globally recommended three-step method that in clinical trials has been proven effective in prevention of PPH. The AMTSL guidelines were introduced in 2003, modified in 2006, and has been part of the national guidelines in Ghana since 2008. In 2012, the guidelines were modified a second time. Despite its positive effects on the incidence of PPH, the level of adherence to the guidelines seems to be low in the studied area. This appears to be a problem shared by several countries in the region. An in-depth understanding of midwives’ experiences about AMTSL is important as it can provide a basis for further interventions in order to reach a higher grade of implementation.
Methods
Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted with labor ward midwives who all had previous training in AMTSL. The interviews took place in 2011 at three hospitals in Accra Metropolis and data was analyzed using qualitative latent content analysis.
Results
Our main finding was that the third step of AMTSL, uterine massage, was not implemented, even though the general attitude towards AMTSL was positive. Thus, despite regular training sessions, the midwives did not follow the Ghanaian national guidelines. Some contributing factors to difficulties in providing AMTSL to all women have been pointed out in this study, the most important being insufficiency in staff coverage. This led to a need for delegating certain steps of AMTSL to other health care staff, i.e. task shifting. The fact that the definition of AMTSL has changed several times since the introduction in 2003 might also be an aggravating factor.
Conclusions
The results from this study highlight the need for continuous updates of national guidelines, extended educational interventions and recurrent controls of adherence to guidelines. AMTSL is an important tool in preventing PPH, however, it must be clarified how it should be used in countries with scarce resources. Also, considering the difficulties in implementing already existing guidelines, further modifications must be made with careful consideration.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-193
PMCID: PMC4057904  PMID: 24903893
Active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL); Post-partum hemorrhage (PPH); Oxytocin; Controlled Cord Traction; Uterine massage; Ghana; Task shifting
25.  Gaining insight into the Clinical Practice Guideline development processes: qualitative study in a workshop to implement the GRADE proposal in Spain 
Background
The GRADE method represents a new approach to grading the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations in the preparation of Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG). In the context of a pilot study to assess the implementability of the system in Spain, we considered it relevant to gain an insight into the significance of the perceptions and attitudes expressed by the actual experts participating in the system try-out.
Methods
Qualitative research with an ethnographic approach, through non-participant observation and focus groups within the context of a consensus workshop in which 19 CPG experts participated to evaluate the GRADE proposal using 12 evidence tables taken from hypertension, asthma and arthritis CPGs. The interventions were recorded, under a guarantee of confidentiality. The transcriptions and field notes were analyzed, based on a sociological discourse analysis model, and the provisional findings were re-sent to participants in order to improve their validity.
Results
1) Certain problems over procedure and terminology hindered the acceptance of this new method as a common reference system for the preparation of CPGs. 2). A greater closeness to clinical practice was accompanied by concerns over value judgments and subjectivity, with a demand for greater explicitness in the consensus process. 3). The type of "evidence" on which the guidelines are based, how and by whom the evidence is prepared, and what the role of the different actors should be, all constitute unresolved concerns in the CPG preparation and implementation processes. 4). The grading process is not neutral: professional background, prior experience and the degree of leadership all condition the participants' input and interactions.
Conclusion
The findings obtained allow the quantitative evaluation to be better interpreted and, in turn, go beyond the particularities of the GRADE method. Adaptation to the complexities of clinical practice, the need for carefully designed multi-disciplinary work and the reflexivity present in the CPG preparation process, all represent lines of debate that are necessary to improve the CPG quality in the Spanish health care sector.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-138
PMCID: PMC1626459  PMID: 17059600

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