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1.  Immediate fluid management of children with severe febrile illness and signs of impaired circulation in low-income settings: a contextualised systematic review 
BMJ Open  2014;4(4):e004934.
Objective
To evaluate the effects of intravenous fluid bolus compared to maintenance intravenous fluids alone as part of immediate emergency care in children with severe febrile illness and signs of impaired circulation in low-income settings.
Design
Systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs), and observational studies, including retrospective analyses, that compare fluid bolus regimens with maintenance fluids alone. The primary outcome measure was predischarge mortality.
Data sources and synthesis
We searched PubMed, The Cochrane Library (to January 2014), with complementary earlier searches on, Google Scholar and Clinical Trial Registries (to March 2013). As studies used different clinical signs to define impaired circulation we classified patients into those with signs of severely impaired circulation, or those with any signs of impaired circulation. The quality of evidence for each outcome was appraised using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. Findings are presented as risk ratios (RRs) with 95% CIs.
Results
Six studies were included. Two were RCTs, one large trial (n=3141 children) from a low-income country and a smaller trial from a middle-income country. The remaining studies were from middle-income or high-income settings, observational, and with few participants (34–187 children).
Severely impaired circulation
The large RCT included a small subgroup with severely impaired circulation. There were more deaths in those receiving bolus fluids (20–40 mL/kg/h, saline or albumin) compared to maintenance fluids (2.5–4 mL/kg/h; RR 2.40, 95% CI 0.84 to 6.88, p=0.054, 65 participants, low quality evidence). Three additional observational studies, all at high risk of confounding, found mixed effects on mortality (very low quality evidence).
Any signs of impaired circulation
The large RCT included children with signs of both severely and non-severely impaired circulation. Overall, bolus fluids increased 48 h mortality compared to maintenance fluids with an additional 3 deaths per 100 children treated (RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.86, 3141 participants, high quality evidence). In a second small RCT from India, no difference in 72 h mortality was detected between children who received 20–40 mL/kg Ringers lactate over 15 min and those who received 20 mL over 20 min up to a maximum of 60 mL/kg over 1 h (147 participants, low quality evidence). In one additional observational study, resuscitation consistent with Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS) guidelines, including fluids, was not associated with reduced mortality in the small subgroup with septic shock (very low quality evidence).
Signs of impaired circulation, but not severely impaired
Only the large RCT allowed an analysis for children with some signs of impaired circulation who would not meet the criteria for severe impairment. Bolus fluids increased 48 h mortality compared to maintenance alone (RR 1.36, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.76, high quality evidence).
Conclusions
Prior to the publication of the large RCT, the global evidence base for bolus fluid therapy in children with severe febrile illness and signs of impaired circulation was of very low quality. This large study provides robust evidence that in low-income settings fluid boluses increase mortality in children with severe febrile illness and impaired circulation, and this increased risk is consistent across children with severe and less severe circulatory impairment.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-004934
PMCID: PMC4010848  PMID: 24785400
Paediatrics
2.  Explaining the uptake of paediatric guidelines in a Kenyan tertiary hospital – mixed methods research 
Background
Evidence-based standards for management of the seriously sick child have existed for decades, yet their translation in clinical practice is a challenge. The context and organization of institutions are known determinants of successful translation, however, research using adequate methodologies to explain the dynamic nature of these determinants in the quality-of-care improvement process is rarely performed.
Methods
We conducted mixed methods research in a tertiary hospital in a low-income country to explore the uptake of locally adapted paediatric guidelines. The quantitative component was an uncontrolled before and after intervention study that included an exploration of the intervention dose-effect relationship. The qualitative component was an ethnographic research based on the theoretical perspective of participatory action research. Interpretive integration was employed to derive meta-inferences that provided a more complete picture of the overall study results that reflect the complexity and the multifaceted ontology of the phenomenon studied.
Results
The improvement in health workers’ performance in relation to the intensity of the intervention was not linear and was characterized by improved and occasionally declining performance. Possible root causes of this performance variability included challenges in keeping knowledge and clinical skills updated, inadequate commitment of the staff to continued improvement, limited exposure to positive professional role models, poor teamwork, failure to maintain professional integrity and mal-adaptation to institutional pressures.
Conclusion
Implementation of best-practices is a complex process that is largely unpredictable, attributed to the complexity of contextual factors operating predominantly at professional and organizational levels. There is no simple solution to implementation of best-practices. Tackling root causes of inadequate knowledge translation in this tertiary care setting will require long-term planning, with emphasis on promotion of professional ethics and values and establishing an organizational framework that enhances positive aspects of professionalism. This study has significant implications for the quality of training in medical institutions and the development of hospital leadership.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-119
PMCID: PMC3975593  PMID: 24613001
ETAT+; Ethnographic; Guidelines; Implementation; Performance; Mixed methods research; Hospital leadership; Complex adaptive system
3.  Factors influencing performance of health workers in the management of seriously sick children at a Kenyan tertiary hospital - participatory action research 
Background
Implementation of World Health Organization case management guidelines for serious childhood illnesses remains a challenge in hospitals in low-income countries. Facilitators of and barriers to implementation of locally adapted clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have not been explored.
Methods
This ethnographic study based on the theory of participatory action research (PAR) was conducted in Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya’s largest teaching hospital. The primary intervention consisted of dissemination of locally adapted CPGs. The PRECEDE-PROCEED health education model was used as the conceptual framework to guide and examine further reinforcement activities to improve the uptake of the CPGs. Activities focussed on introduction of routine clinical audits and tailored educational sessions. Data were collected by a participant observer who also facilitated the PAR over an eighteen-month period. Naturalistic inquiry was utilized to obtain information from all hospital staff encountered while theoretical sampling allowed in-depth exploration of emerging issues. Data were analysed using interpretive description.
Results
Relevance of the CPGs to routine work and emergence of a champion of change facilitated uptake of best-practices. Mobilization of basic resources was relatively easily undertaken while activities that required real intellectual and professional engagement of the senior staff were a challenge. Accomplishments of the PAR were largely with the passive rather than active involvement of the hospital management. Barriers to implementation of best-practices included i) mismatch between the hospital’s vision and reality, ii) poor communication, iii) lack of objective mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating quality of clinical care, iv) limited capacity for planning strategic change, v) limited management skills to introduce and manage change, vi) hierarchical relationships, and vii) inadequate adaptation of the interventions to the local context.
Conclusions
Educational interventions, often regarded as ‘quick-fixes’ to improve care in low-income countries, may be necessary but are unlikely to be sufficient to deliver improved services. We propose that an understanding of organizational issues that influence the behaviour of individual health professionals should guide and inform the implementation of best-practices.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-59
PMCID: PMC3942276  PMID: 24507629
Clinical audits; Clinical practice guidelines; Continuous medical educational sessions; ETAT+; Ethnographic study; Implementation of best-practices; Interpretive description; Participatory action research; Participant observer; Performance of health workers
4.  The public sector nursing workforce in Kenya: a county-level analysis 
Background
Kenya’s human resources for health shortage is well documented, yet in line with the new constitution, responsibility for health service delivery will be devolved to 47 new county administrations. This work describes the public sector nursing workforce likely to be inherited by the counties, and examines the relationships between nursing workforce density and key indicators.
Methods
National nursing deployment data linked to nursing supply data were used and analyzed using statistical and geographical analysis software. Data on nurses deployed in national referral hospitals and on nurses deployed in non-public sector facilities were excluded from main analyses. The densities and characteristics of the public sector nurses across the counties were obtained and examined against an index of county remoteness, and the nursing densities were correlated with five key indicators.
Results
Of the 16,371 nurses in the public non-tertiary sector, 76% are women and 53% are registered nurses, with 35% of the nurses aged 40 to 49 years. The nursing densities across counties range from 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000 population. There are statistically significant associations of the nursing densities with a measure of health spending per capita (P value = 0.0028) and immunization rates (P value = 0.0018). A higher county remoteness index is associated with explaining lower female to male ratio of public sector nurses across counties (P value <0.0001).
Conclusions
An overall shortage of nurses (range of 1.2 to 0.08 per 1,000) in the public sector countrywide is complicated by mal-distribution and varying workforce characteristics (for example, age profile) across counties. All stakeholders should support improvements in human resources information systems and help address personnel shortages and mal-distribution if equitable, quality health-care delivery in the counties is to be achieved.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-12-6
PMCID: PMC3913960  PMID: 24467776
Nurses; Public sector; Human resources for health; County; Kenya
5.  Appealing to altruism: an alternative strategy to address the health workforce crisis in developing countries? 
Journal of public health (Oxford, England)  2012;35(1):10.1093/pubmed/fds066.
Background
Recruitment and retention of health workers is a major concern. Policy initiatives emphasize financial incentives, despite mixed evidence of their effectiveness. Qualitative studies suggest that nurses especially may be more driven by altruistic motivations, but quantitative research has overlooked such values. This paper adds to the literature through characterizing the nature and determinants of nurses’ altruism, based on a cross-country quantitative study.
Methods
An experimental ‘dictator game’ was undertaken with 1064 final year nursing students in Kenya, South Africa and Thailand between April 2007 and July 2008. This presents participants with a real financial endowment to split between themselves and another student, a patient or a poor person. Giving a greater share of this financial endowment to the other person is interpreted as reflecting greater altruism.
Results
Nursing students gave over 30% of their initial endowment to others (compared with 10% in similar experiments undertaken in other samples). Respondents in all three countries showed greater generosity to patients and the poor than to fellow students.
Conclusions
Consideration needs to be given to how to appeal to altruistic values as an alternative strategy to encourage nurses to enter the profession and remain, such as designing recruitment strategies to increase recruitment of altruistic individuals who are more likely to remain in the profession.
doi:10.1093/pubmed/fds066
PMCID: PMC3856341  PMID: 22915772
economics; health services
6.  Topical Umbilical Cord Care for Prevention of Infection and Neonatal Mortality 
Umbilical cord care varies often reflecting community or health-worker beliefs. We undertook a review of current evidence on topical umbilical cord care. Study quality was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation system, and a meta-analysis was conducted for comparable trials. Available moderate-quality to high-quality evidence indicate that cord cleansing with 4% chlorhexidine may reduce the risk of neonatal mortality and sepsis (omphalitis) in low-resource settings.
doi:10.1097/INF.0b013e3182783dc3
PMCID: PMC3785148  PMID: 23076382
cord care; chlorhexidine; neonatal mortality; sepsis; neonates
7.  Absenteeism amongst health workers – developing a typology to support empiric work in low-income countries and characterizing reported associations 
The contribution of inadequate health worker numbers and emigration have been highlighted in the international literature, but relatively little attention has been paid to absenteeism as a factor that undermines health-care delivery in low income countries. We therefore aimed to review the literature on absenteeism from a health system manager’s perspective to inform needed work on this topic. Specifically, we aimed to develop a typology of definitions that might be useful to classify different forms of absenteeism and identify factors associated with absenteeism. Sixty-nine studies were reviewed, only four were from sub-Saharan Africa where the human resources for health crisis is most acute. Forms of absenteeism studied and methods used vary widely. No previous attempt to develop an overarching approach to classifying forms of absenteeism was identified. A typology based on key characteristics is proposed to fill this gap and considers absenteeism as defined by two key attributes, whether it is: planned/unplanned, and voluntary/involuntary. Factors reported to influence rates of absenteeism may be broadly classified into three thematic categories: workplace and content, personal and organizational and cultural factors. The literature presents an inconsistent picture of the effects of specific factors within these themes perhaps related to true contextual differences or inconsistent definitions of absenteeism.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-34
PMCID: PMC3721994  PMID: 23866770
Absenteeism; Workforce; Sickleave
8.  The role of Clinical Officers in the Kenyan health system: a question of perspective 
Background
Despite the increasing interest in using non-physician clinicians in many low-income countries, little is known about the roles they play in typical health system settings. Prior research has concentrated on evaluating their technical competencies compared to those of doctors. This work explored perceptions of the roles of Kenyan non-physician clinicians (Clinical Officers (COs).
Methods
Qualitative methods including in-depth interviews (with COs, nurses, doctors, hospital management, and policymakers, among others), participant observation and document analysis were used. A nomothetic-idiographic framework was used to examine tensions between institutions and individuals within them. A comparative approach was used to examine institutional versus individual notions of CO roles, how these roles play out in government and faith-based hospital (FBH) settings as well as differences arising from three specific work settings for COs within hospitals.
Results
The main finding was the discrepancy between policy documents that outline a broad role for COs that covers both technical and managerial roles, while respondents articulated a narrow technical role that focused on patient care and management. Respondents described a variety of images of COs, ranging from ‘filter’ to ‘primary healthcare physician’, when asked about CO roles. COs argued for a defined role associated with primary healthcare, feeling constrained by their technical role. FBH settings were found to additionally clarify CO roles when compared with public hospitals. Tensions between formal prescriptions of CO roles and actual practice were reported and coalesced around lack of recognition over COs work, role conflict among specialist COs, and role ambiguity.
Conclusions
Even though COs are important service providers their role is not clearly understood, which has resulted in role conflict. It is suggested that their role be redefined, moving from that of ‘substitute clinician’ to professional ‘primary care clinician’, with this being supported by the health system.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-32
PMCID: PMC3724708  PMID: 23866692
9.  Assessment of Health Benefits and Cost-Effectiveness of 10-Valent and 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccination in Kenyan Children 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67324.
Background
The GAVI Alliance supported10-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV10) introduction in Kenya. We estimated the cost-effectiveness of introducing either PCV10 or the13-valent vaccine (PCV13) from a societal perspective and explored the incremental impact of including indirect vaccine effects.
Methods
The costs and effects of pneumococcal vaccination among infants born in Kenya in 2010 were assessed using a decision analytic model comparing PCV10 or PCV13, in turn, with no vaccination. Direct vaccine effects were estimated as a reduction in the incidence of pneumococcal meningitis, sepsis, bacteraemic pneumonia and non-bacteraemic pneumonia. Pneumococcal disease incidence was extrapolated from a population-based hospital surveillance system in Kilifi and adjustments were made for variable access to care across Kenya. We used vaccine efficacy estimates from a trial in The Gambia and accounted for serotype distribution in Kilifi. We estimated indirect vaccine protection and serotype replacement by extrapolating from the USA. Multivariable sensitivity analysis was conducted using Monte Carlo simulation. We assumed a vaccine price of US$ 3.50 per dose.
Findings
The annual cost of delivering PCV10 was approximately US$14 million. We projected a 42.7% reduction in pneumococcal disease episodes leading to a US$1.97 million reduction in treatment costs and a 6.1% reduction in childhood mortality annually. In the base case analysis, costs per discounted DALY and per death averted by PCV10, amounted to US$ 59 (95% CI 26–103) and US$ 1,958 (95% CI 866–3,425), respectively. PCV13 introduction improved the cost-effectiveness ratios by approximately 20% and inclusion of indirect effects improved cost-effectiveness ratios by 43–56%. The break-even prices for introduction of PCV10 and PCV13 are US$ 0.41 and 0.51, respectively.
Conclusions
Introducing either PCV10 or PCV13 in Kenya is highly cost-effective from a societal perspective. Indirect effects, if they occur, would significantly improve the cost-effectiveness.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067324
PMCID: PMC3691111  PMID: 23826268
10.  Hospital outcomes for paediatric pneumonia and diarrhoea patients admitted in a tertiary hospital on weekdays versus weekends: a retrospective study 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:74.
Background
Quality of patient care in hospitals has been shown to be inconsistent during weekends and night-time hours, and is often associated with reduced patient monitoring, poor antibiotic prescription practices and poor patient outcomes. Poorer care and outcomes are commonly attributed to decreased levels of staffing, supervision and expertise and poorer access to diagnostics. However, there are few studies examining this issue in low resource settings where mortality from common childhood illnesses is high and health care systems are weak.
Methods
This study uses data from a retrospective cross-sectional study aimed at “evaluating the uptake of best practice clinical guidelines in a tertiary hospital” with a pre and post intervention approach that spanned the period 2005 to 2009. We evaluated a primary hypothesis that mortality for children with pneumonia and/or dehydration aged 2–59 months admitted on weekends differed from those admitted on weekdays. A secondary hypothesis that poor quality of care could be a mechanism for higher mortality was also explored. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between mortality and the independent predictors of mortality.
Results
Our analysis indicates that there is no difference in mortality on weekends compared to weekdays even after adjusting for the significant predictors of mortality (OR = 1.15; 95% CI 0.90 -1.45; p = 0.27). There were similarly no significant differences between weekends and weekdays for the quality of care indicators, however, there was an overall improvement in mortality and quality of care through the period of study.
Conclusion
Mortality and the quality of care does not differ by the day of admission in a Kenyan tertiary hospital, however mortality remains high suggesting that continued efforts to improve care are warranted.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-74
PMCID: PMC3655904  PMID: 23663546
Children; Pneumonia; Diarrhea; Weekend versus weekday; Quality of health care
11.  Designing a theory-informed, contextually appropriate intervention strategy to improve delivery of paediatric services in Kenyan hospitals 
Background
District hospital services in Kenya and many low-income countries should deliver proven, effective interventions that could substantially reduce child and newborn mortality. However such services are often of poor quality. Researchers have therefore been challenged to identify intervention strategies that go beyond addressing knowledge, skill, or resource inadequacies to support health systems to deliver better services at scale. An effort to develop a system-oriented intervention tailored to local needs and context and drawing on theory is described.
Methods
An intervention was designed to improve district hospital services for children based on four main strategies: a reflective process to distill root causes for the observed problems with service delivery; developing a set of possible intervention approaches to address these problems; a search of literature for theory that provided the most appropriate basis for intervention design; and repeatedly moving backwards and forwards between identified causes, proposed interventions, identified theory, and knowledge of the existing context to develop an overarching intervention that seemed feasible and likely to be acceptable and potentially sustainable.
Results and discussion
In addition to human and resource constraints key problems included failures of relevant professionals to take responsibility for or ownership of the challenge of pediatric service delivery; inadequately prepared, poorly supported leaders of service units (mid-level managers) who are often professionally and geographically isolated and an almost complete lack of useful information for routinely monitoring or understanding service delivery practice or outcomes. A system-oriented intervention recognizing the pivotal role of leaders of service units but addressing the outer and inner setting of hospitals was designed to help shape and support an appropriate role for these professionals. It aims to foster a sense of ownership while providing the necessary understanding, knowledge, and skills for mid-level managers to work effectively with senior managers and frontline staff to improve services. The intervention will include development of an information system, feedback mechanisms, and discussion fora that promote positive change. The vehicle for such an intervention is a collaborative network partnering government and national professional associations. This case is presented to promote discussion on approaches to developing context appropriate interventions particularly in international health.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-39
PMCID: PMC3620707  PMID: 23537192
12.  Service delivery in Kenyan district hospitals – what can we learn from literature on mid-level managers? 
Background
There is a growing emphasis on the need to tackle inadequate human resources for health (HRH) as an essential part of strengthening health systems; but the focus is mostly on macro-level issues, such as training, recruitment, skill mix and distribution. Few attempts have been made to understand the capability of health workers, their motivation and other structural and organizational aspects of systems that influence workforce performance. We have examined literature on the roles of mid-level managers to help us understand how they might influence service delivery quality in Kenyan hospitals. In the Kenyan hospital settings, these are roles that head of departments who are also clinical or nursing service providers might play.
Methods
A computerized search strategy was run in Pub Med, Cochrane Library, Directory of Open Access Journals Social Science Research Network, Eldis, Google Scholar and Human Resources for Health web site databases using both free-text and MeSH terms from 1980 to 2011. In addition, citation searching from excluded and included articles was used and relevant unpublished literature systematically identified.
Results and discussion
A total of 23 articles were finally included in the review from over 7000 titles and abstracts initially identified. The most widely documented roles of mid-level managers were decision-making or problem-solving, strategist or negotiator and communicator. Others included being a therapist or motivator, goal setting or articulation and mentoring or coaching. In addition to these roles, we identified important personal attributes of a good manager, which included interpersonal skills, delegation and accountability, and honesty. The majority of studies included in the review concerned the roles that mid-level managers are expected to play in times of organizational change.
Conclusion
This review highlights the possible significance of mid-level managers in achieving delivery of high-quality services in Kenyan public hospitals and strongly suggests that approaches to strengthen this level of management will be valuable. The findings from this review should also help inform empirical studies of the roles of mid-level managers in these settings.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-10
PMCID: PMC3599555  PMID: 23442524
Competencies; Health care settings; Hospitals; Middle managers; Mid-level managers; Roles
13.  Comparison of Alternative Evidence Summary and Presentation Formats in Clinical Guideline Development: A Mixed-Method Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e55067.
Background
Best formats for summarising and presenting evidence for use in clinical guideline development remain less well defined. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of different evidence summary formats to address this gap.
Methods
Healthcare professionals attending a one-week Kenyan, national guideline development workshop were randomly allocated to receive evidence packaged in three different formats: systematic reviews (SRs) alone, systematic reviews with summary-of-findings tables, and ‘graded-entry’ formats (a ‘front-end’ summary and a contextually framed narrative report plus the SR). The influence of format on the proportion of correct responses to key clinical questions, the primary outcome, was assessed using a written test. The secondary outcome was a composite endpoint, measured on a 5-point scale, of the clarity of presentation and ease of locating the quality of evidence for critical neonatal outcomes. Interviews conducted within two months following completion of trial data collection explored panel members’ views on the evidence summary formats and experiences with appraisal and use of research information.
Results
65 (93%) of 70 participants completed questions on the prespecified outcome measures. There were no differences between groups in the odds of correct responses to key clinical questions. ‘Graded-entry’ formats were associated with a higher mean composite score for clarity and accessibility of information about the quality of evidence for critical neonatal outcomes compared to systematic reviews alone (adjusted mean difference 0.52, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.99). There was no difference in the mean composite score between SR with SoF tables and SR alone. Findings from interviews with 16 panelists indicated that short narrative evidence reports were preferred for the improved clarity of information presentation and ease of use.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that ‘graded-entry’ evidence summary formats may improve clarity and accessibility of research evidence in clinical guideline development.
Trial Registration
Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN05154264
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055067
PMCID: PMC3555827  PMID: 23372813
14.  Variations in Mortality in Children Admitted with Pneumonia to Kenyan Hospitals 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e47622.
Background
The existing case fatality estimates of inpatient childhood pneumonia in developing countries are largely from periods preceding routine use of conjugate vaccines for infant immunization and such primary studies rarely explore hospital variations in mortality. We analysed case fatality rates of children admitted to nine Kenyan hospitals with pneumonia during the era of routine infant immunization with Hib conjugate vaccine to determine if significant variations exist between hospitals.
Methods
Pneumonia admissions and outcomes in paediatric wards are described using data collected over two time periods: a one-year period (2007–2008) in nine hospitals, and data from a 9.25-year period (1999-March 2008) in one of the participating hospitals. Hospital case fatality rates for inpatient pneumonia during 2007 to 2008 were modeled using a fixed effect binomial regression model with a logit link. Using an interrupted time series design, data from one hospital were analysed for trends in pneumonia mortality during the period between 1997 and March 2008.
Results
Overall, 195 (5.9%) children admitted to all 9 hospitals with pneumonia from March 2007 to March 2008 died in hospital. After adjusting for child’s sex, comorbidity, and hospital effect, mortality was significantly associated with child’s age (p<0.001) and pneumonia severity (p<0.001). There was evidence of significant variations in mortality between hospitals (LR χ2 = 52.19; p<0.001). Pneumonia mortality remained stable in the periods before (trend −0.03, 95% CI −0.1 to 0.02) and after Hib introduction (trend 0.04, 95% CI −0.04 to 0.11).
Conclusions
There are important variations in hospital-pneumonia case fatality in Kenya and these variations are not attributed to temporal changes. Such variations in mortality are not addressed by existing epidemiological models and need to be considered in allocating resources to improve child health.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047622
PMCID: PMC3489903  PMID: 23139752
15.  The “Child Health Evidence Week” and GRADE grid may aid transparency in the deliberative process of guideline development 
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology  2012;65(9-10):962-969.
Objective
To explore the evidence translation process during a 1-week national guideline development workshop (“Child Health Evidence Week”) in Kenya.
Study Design and Setting
Nonparticipant observational study of the discussions of a multidisciplinary guideline development panel in Kenya. Discussions were aided by GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) grid.
Results
Three key thematic categories emerged: 1) “referral to other evidence to support or refute the proposed recommendations;” 2) “assessment of the presented research evidence;” and 3) “assessment of the local applicability of evidence.” The types of evidence cited included research evidence and anecdotal evidence based on clinician experiences. Assessment of the research evidence revealed important challenges in the translation of evidence into recommendations, including absence of evidence, low quality or inconclusive evidence, inadequate reporting of key features of the management under consideration, and differences in panelists’ interpretation of the research literature. A broad range of factors with potential to affect local applicability of evidence were discussed.
Conclusion
The process of the “Child Health Evidence Week” combined with the GRADE grid may aid transparency in the deliberative process of guideline development, and provide a mechanism for comprehensive assessment, documentation, and reporting of multiple factors that influence the quality and applicability of guideline recommendations.
doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2012.03.004
PMCID: PMC3413881  PMID: 22742914
Clinical practice guidelines; Evidence; Knowledge translation; Transparency; GRADE; Pediatrics
16.  Performance of Health Workers in the Management of Seriously Sick Children at a Kenyan Tertiary Hospital: Before and after a Training Intervention 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39964.
Background
Implementation of WHO case management guidelines for serious common childhood illnesses remains a challenge in hospitals in low-income countries. The impact of locally adapted clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) on the quality-of-care of patients in tertiary hospitals has rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
We conducted, in Kenyatta National Hospital, an uncontrolled before and after study with an attempt to explore intervention dose-effect relationships, as CPGs were disseminated and training was progressively implemented. The emergency triage, assessment and treatment plus admission care (ETAT+) training and locally adapted CPGs targeted common, serious childhood illnesses. We compared performance in the pre-intervention (2005) and post-intervention periods (2009) using quality indicators for three diseases: pneumonia, dehydration and severe malnutrition. The indicators spanned four domains in the continuum of care namely assessment, classification, treatment, and follow-up care in the initial 48 hours of admission. In the pre-intervention period patients' care was largely inconsistent with the guidelines, with nine of the 15 key indicators having performance of below 10%. The intervention produced a marked improvement in guideline adherence with an absolute effect size of over 20% observed in seven of the 15 key indicators; three of which had an effect size of over 50%. However, for all the five indicators that required sustained team effort performance continued to be poor, at less than 10%, in the post-intervention period. Data from the five-year period (2005–09) suggest some dose dependency though the adoption rate of the best-practices varied across diseases and over time.
Conclusion
Active dissemination of locally adapted clinical guidelines for common serious childhood illnesses can achieve a significant impact on documented clinical practices, particularly for tasks that rely on competence of individual clinicians. However, more attention must be given to broader implementation strategies that also target institutional and organisational aspects of service delivery to further enhance quality-of-care.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039964
PMCID: PMC3409218  PMID: 22859945
17.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Improve the Quality of Care of Children in District Hospitals in Kenya: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001238.
A cost-effective analysis conducted by Edwine Barasa and colleagues estimates that a complex intervention aimed at improving quality of pediatric care would be affordable and cost-effective in Kenya.
Background
To improve care for children in district hospitals in Kenya, a multifaceted approach employing guidelines, training, supervision, feedback, and facilitation was developed, for brevity called the Emergency Triage and Treatment Plus (ETAT+) strategy. We assessed the cost effectiveness of the ETAT+ strategy, in Kenyan hospitals. Further, we estimate the costs of scaling up the intervention to Kenya nationally and potential cost effectiveness at scale.
Methods and Findings
Our cost-effectiveness analysis from the provider's perspective used data from a previously reported cluster randomized trial comparing the full ETAT+ strategy (n = 4 hospitals) with a partial intervention (n = 4 hospitals). Effectiveness was measured using 14 process measures that capture improvements in quality of care; their average was used as a summary measure of quality. Economic costs of the development and implementation of the intervention were determined (2009 US$). Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were defined as the incremental cost per percentage improvement in (average) quality of care. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis was used to assess uncertainty. The cost per child admission was US$50.74 (95% CI 49.26–67.06) in intervention hospitals compared to US$31.1 (95% CI 30.67–47.18) in control hospitals. Each percentage improvement in average quality of care cost an additional US$0.79 (95% CI 0.19–2.31) per admitted child. The estimated annual cost of nationally scaling up the full intervention was US$3.6 million, approximately 0.6% of the annual child health budget in Kenya. A “what-if” analysis assuming conservative reductions in mortality suggests the incremental cost per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted by scaling up would vary between US$39.8 and US$398.3.
Conclusion
Improving quality of care at scale nationally with the full ETAT+ strategy may be affordable for low income countries such as Kenya. Resultant plausible reductions in hospital mortality suggest the intervention could be cost-effective when compared to incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of other priority child health interventions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
According to latest global estimates from UNICEF, 7.6 million children currently die every year before they reach five years of age. Half of these deaths occur in children in sub-Saharan Africa and tragically, most of these deaths are due to a few treatable and preventable diseases, such as pneumonia, malaria, and diarrhea, for which effective interventions are already available. In order to meet the target of the 4th Millennium Development Goal—which aims to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds from 1990 levels by 2015—delivering these interventions is essential.
In Kenya, the under-five child mortality rate must be reduced by half from its 2008 level in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target and so improving the management of serious child illness might help achieve this goal. A study published last year in PLoS Medicine described such an approach and included the development and implementation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines linked to health worker training, follow-up supervision, performance feedback, and facilitation in eight district hospitals in Kenya.
Why Was This Study Done?
In the study mentioned above, the researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care in intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later and found that performance improved more in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. However, while this strategy was effective at improving the quality of health care, it is unclear whether scaling up the approach would be a good use of limited resources. So in this study, the same researchers performed a cost-effectiveness analysis (which they conducted alongside the original trial) of their quality improvement intervention and estimated the costs and effects of scaling up this approach to cover the entire population of Kenya.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In order to perform the cost part of the analysis, the researchers collected the relevant information on costs by using clinical and accounting record reviews and interviews with those involved in developing and implementing the intervention. The researchers evaluated the effectiveness part of the analysis by comparing the implementation of their improved quality of care strategy as delivered in the intervention hospitals with the partial intervention as delivered in the control hospitals by calculating the mean percentage improvement in the 14 process of care indicators at 18 months. Finally, the researchers calculated the costs of scaling up the intervention by applying their results to the whole of Kenya—121 hospital facilities with an estimated annual child admission rate of 2,000 per facility.
The researchers found that the quality of care (as measured by the process of care indicators) was 25% higher in intervention hospitals than in control hospitals, while the cost per child admission was US$50.74 in intervention hospitals compared to US$31.1 in control hospitals. The researchers calculated that each percentage improvement in the average quality of care was achieved at an additional cost of US$0.79 per admitted child. Extrapolating these results to all of Kenya, the estimated annual cost of scaling up the intervention nationally was US$3.6 million, about 0.6% of the annual child health budget in Kenya.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this cost-effectiveness analysis suggests that a comprehensive quality improvement intervention is effective at improving standards of care but at an additional cost, which may be relatively cost effective compared with basic care if the improvements observed are associated with decreases in child inpatient mortality. The absolute costs for scaling up are comparable to, or even lower than, costs of other, major child health interventions. As the international community is giving an increasing focus to strengthening health systems, these findings provide a strong case for scaling up this intervention, which improves quality of care and service provision for the major causes of child mortality, in rural hospitals throughout Kenya and other district hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001238.
The researchers' original article appeared in PLoS Medicine in 2011: Ayieko P, Ntoburi S, Wagai J, Opondo C, Opiyo N, et al. (2011) A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial. PLoS Med 8(4): e1001018. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
The IDOC Africa provides further information on the ETAT+ strategy
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information on MDG 4, including strategies to reduce global child mortality) and the WHO pocket-book “Hospital care for children” includes guidelines for the management of common but serious childhood illnesses in resource-limited settings
UNICEF www.unicef.org also publishes information on global child mortality rates and the Countdown to 2015 website tracks coverage levels for health interventions proven to reduce child mortality
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001238
PMCID: PMC3373608  PMID: 22719233
18.  Getting to grips with GRADE—perspective from a low-income setting 
Journal of clinical epidemiology  2011;64(7):708-710.
doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2010.07.016
PMCID: PMC3319275  PMID: 21316192
19.  Economic evaluation of package of care interventions employing clinical guidelines 
Summary
Increasingly attention is shifting towards delivering essential packages of care, often based on clinical practice guidelines, as a means to improve maternal, child and newborn survival in low-income settings. Cost effectiveness analysis (CEA), allied to the evaluation of less complex intervention, has become an increasingly important tool for priority setting. Arguably such analyses should be extended to inform decisions around the deployment of more complex interventions. In the discussion, we illustrate some of the challenges facing the extension of CEA to this area. We suggest that there are both practical and methodological challenges to overcome when conducting economic evaluation for packages of care interventions that incorporate clinical guidelines. Some might be overcome by developing specific guidance on approaches, for example clarity in identifying relevant costs. Some require consensus on methods. The greatest challenge, however, lies in how to incorporate, as measures of effectiveness, process measures of service quality. Questions on which measures to use, how multiple measures might be combined, how improvements in one area might be compared with those in another and what value is associated with improvement in health worker practices are yet to be answered.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02637.x
PMCID: PMC3276840  PMID: 21371210
economic evaluation; cost effectiveness analysis; complex interventions; health care evaluation; package of care; clinical practice guidelines
20.  Experience developing national evidence-based clinical guidelines for childhood pneumonia in a low-income setting - making the GRADE? 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:1.
Background
The development of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines has gained wide acceptance in high-income countries and reputable international organizations. Whereas this approach may be a desirable standard, challenges remain in low-income settings with limited capacity and resources for evidence synthesis and guideline development. We present our experience using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach for the recent revision of the Kenyan pediatric clinical guidelines focusing on antibiotic treatment of pneumonia.
Methods
A team of health professionals, many with minimal prior experience conducting systematic reviews, carried out evidence synthesis for structured clinical questions. Summaries were compiled and distributed to a panel of clinicians, academicians and policy-makers to generate recommendations based on best available research evidence and locally-relevant contextual factors.
Results
We reviewed six eligible articles on non-severe and 13 on severe/very severe pneumonia. Moderate quality evidence suggesting similar clinical outcomes comparing amoxicillin and cotrimoxazole for non-severe pneumonia received a strong recommendation against adopting amoxicillin. The panel voted strongly against amoxicillin for severe pneumonia over benzyl penicillin despite moderate quality evidence suggesting clinical equivalence between the two and additional factors favoring amoxicillin. Very low quality evidence suggesting ceftriaxone was as effective as the standard benzyl penicillin plus gentamicin for very severe pneumonia received a strong recommendation supporting the standard treatment.
Conclusions
Although this exercise may have fallen short of the rigorous requirements recommended by the developers of GRADE, it was arguably an improvement on previous attempts at guideline development in low-income countries and offers valuable lessons for future similar exercises where resources and locally-generated evidence are scarce.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-1
PMCID: PMC3268095  PMID: 22208358
21.  Explaining the effects of a multifaceted intervention to improve inpatient care in rural Kenyan hospitals -- interpretation based on retrospective examination of data from participant observation, quantitative and qualitative studies 
Background
We have reported the results of a cluster randomized trial of rural Kenyan hospitals evaluating the effects of an intervention to introduce care based on best-practice guidelines. In parallel work we described the context of the study, explored the process and perceptions of the intervention, and undertook a discrete study on health worker motivation because this was felt likely to be an important contributor to poor performance in Kenyan public sector hospitals. Here, we use data from these multiple studies and insights gained from being participants in and observers of the intervention process to provide our explanation of how intervention effects were achieved as part of an effort to better understand implementation in low-income hospital settings.
Methods
Initial hypotheses were generated to explain the variation in intervention effects across place, time, and effect measure (indicator) based on our understanding of theory and informed by our implementation experience and participant observations. All data sources available for hospitals considered as cases for study were then examined to determine if hypotheses were supported, rejected, or required modification. Data included transcriptions of interviews and group discussions, field notes and that from the detailed longitudinal quantitative investigation. Potentially useful explanatory themes were identified, discussed by the implementing and research team, revised, and merged as part of an iterative process aimed at building more generic explanatory theory. At the end of this process, findings were mapped against a recently reported comprehensive framework for implementation research.
Results
A normative re-educative intervention approach evolved that sought to reset norms and values concerning good practice and promote 'grass-roots' participation to improve delivery of correct care. Maximal effects were achieved when this strategy and external support supervision helped create a soft-contract with senior managers clarifying roles and expectations around desired performance. This, combined with the support of facilitators acting as an expert resource and 'shop-floor' change agent, led to improvements in leadership, accountability, and resource allocation that enhanced workers' commitment and capacity and improved clinical microsystems. Provision of correct care was then particularly likely if tasks were simple and a good fit to existing professional routines. Our findings were in broad agreement with those defined as part of recent work articulating a comprehensive framework for implementation research.
Conclusions
Using data from multiple studies can provide valuable insight into how an intervention is working and what factors may explain variability in effects. Findings clearly suggest that major intervention strategies aimed at improving child and newborn survival in low-income settings should go well beyond the fixed inputs (training, guidelines, and job aides) that are typical of many major programmes. Strategies required to deliver good care in low-income settings should recognize that this will need to be co-produced through engagement often over prolonged periods and as part of a directive but adaptive, participatory, information-rich, and reflective process.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-124
PMCID: PMC3248845  PMID: 22132875
22.  Effect of a multi-faceted quality improvement intervention on inappropriate antibiotic use in children with non-bloody diarrhoea admitted to district hospitals in Kenya 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:109.
Background
There are few reports of interventions to reduce the common but irrational use of antibiotics for acute non-bloody diarrhoea amongst hospitalised children in low-income settings. We undertook a secondary analysis of data from an intervention comprising training of health workers, facilitation, supervision and face-to-face feedback, to assess whether it reduced inappropriate use of antibiotics in children with non-bloody diarrhoea and no co-morbidities requiring antibiotics, compared to a partial intervention comprising didactic training and written feedback only. This outcome was not a pre-specified end-point of the main trial.
Methods
Repeated cross-sectional survey data from a cluster-randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve management of common childhood illnesses in Kenya were used to describe the prevalence of inappropriate antibiotic use in a 7-day period in children aged 2-59 months with acute non-bloody diarrhoea. Logistic regression models with random effects for hospital were then used to identify patient and clinician level factors associated with inappropriate antibiotic use and to assess the effect of the intervention.
Results
9, 459 admission records of children were reviewed for this outcome. Of these, 4, 232 (44.7%) were diagnosed with diarrhoea, with 130 of these being bloody (dysentery) therefore requiring antibiotics. 1, 160 children had non-bloody diarrhoea and no co-morbidities requiring antibiotics-these were the focus of the analysis. 750 (64.7%) of them received antibiotics inappropriately, 313 of these being in the intervention hospitals vs. 437 in the controls. The adjusted logistic regression model showed the baseline-adjusted odds of inappropriate antibiotic prescription to children admitted to the intervention hospitals was 0.30 times that in the control hospitals (95%CI 0.09-1.02).
Conclusion
We found some evidence that the multi-faceted, sustained intervention described in this paper led to a reduction in the inappropriate use of antibiotics in treating children with non-bloody diarrhoea.
Trial registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register ISRCTN42996612
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-109
PMCID: PMC3314405  PMID: 22117602
23.  Quality of hospital care for sick newborns and severely malnourished children in Kenya: A two-year descriptive study in 8 hospitals 
Background
Given the high mortality associated with neonatal illnesses and severe malnutrition and the development of packages of interventions that provide similar challenges for service delivery mechanisms we set out to explore how well such services are provided in Kenya.
Methods
As a sub-component of a larger study we evaluated care during surveys conducted in 8 rural district hospitals using convenience samples of case records. After baseline hospitals received either a full multifaceted intervention (intervention hospitals) or a partial intervention (control hospitals) aimed largely at improving inpatient paediatric care for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea/dehydration. Additional data were collected to: i) examine the availability of routine information at baseline and their value for morbidity, mortality and quality of care reporting, and ii) compare the care received against national guidelines disseminated to all hospitals.
Results
Clinical documentation for neonatal and malnutrition admissions was often very poor at baseline with case records often entirely missing. Introducing a standard newborn admission record (NAR) form was associated with an increase in median assessment (IQR) score to 25/28 (22-27) from 2/28 (1-4) at baseline. Inadequate and incorrect prescribing of penicillin and gentamicin were common at baseline. For newborns considerable improvements in prescribing in the post baseline period were seen for penicillin but potentially serious errors persisted when prescribing gentamicin, particularly to low-birth weight newborns in the first week of life. Prescribing essential feeds appeared almost universally inadequate at baseline and showed limited improvement after guideline dissemination.
Conclusion
Routine records are inadequate to assess newborn care and thus for monitoring newborn survival interventions. Quality of documented inpatient care for neonates and severely malnourished children is poor with limited improvement after the dissemination of clinical practice guidelines. Further research evaluating approaches to improving care for these vulnerable groups is urgently needed. We also suggest pre-service training curricula should be better aligned to help improve newborn survival particularly.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-307
PMCID: PMC3236590  PMID: 22078071
newborns; child malnutrition; quality of health care
24.  Clinical indicators of bacterial meningitis among neonates and young infants in rural Kenya 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:301.
Background
Meningitis is notoriously difficult to diagnose in infancy because its clinical features are non-specific. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines suggest several indicative signs, based on limited data. We aimed to identify indicators of bacterial meningitis in young infants in Kenya, and compared their performance to the WHO guidelines. We also examined the feasibility of developing a scoring system for meningitis.
Methods
We studied all admissions aged < 60 days to Kilifi District Hospital, 2001 through 2005. We evaluated clinical indicators against microbiological findings using likelihood ratios. We prospectively validated our findings 2006 through 2007.
Results
We studied 2,411 and 1,512 young infants during the derivation and validation periods respectively. During derivation, 31/1,031 (3.0%) neonates aged < 7 days and 67/1,380 (4.8%) young infants aged 7-59 days (p < 0.001) had meningitis. 90% of cases could be diagnosed macroscopically (turbidity) or by microscopic leukocyte counting. Independent indicators of meningitis were: fever, convulsions, irritability, bulging fontanel and temperature ≥ 39°C. Areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve in the validation period were 0.62 [95%CI: 0.49-0.75] age < 7 days and 0.76 [95%CI: 0.68-0.85] thereafter (P = 0.07), and using the WHO signs, 0.50 [95%CI 0.35-0.65] age < 7 days and 0.82 [95%CI: 0.75-0.89] thereafter (P = 0.0001). The number needed to LP to identify one case was 21 [95%CI: 15-35] for our signs, and 28 [95%CI: 18-61] for WHO signs. With a scoring system, a cut-off of ≥ 1 sign offered the best compromise on sensitivity and specificity.
Conclusion
Simple clinical signs at admission identify two thirds of meningitis cases in neonates and young infants. Lumbar puncture is essential to diagnosis and avoidance of unnecessary treatment, and is worthwhile without CSF biochemistry or bacterial culture. The signs of Meningitis suggested by the WHO perform poorly in the first week of life. A scoring system for meningitis in this age group is not helpful.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-301
PMCID: PMC3217941  PMID: 22044635
meningitis; "young infants"; neonates; "lumbar puncture"; "clinical signs"; "resource-poor"
25.  What clinical signs best identify severe illness in young infants aged 0–59 days in developing countries? A systematic review 
Archives of disease in childhood  2011;96(11):1052-1059.
Despite recent overall improvement in the survival of under-five children worldwide, mortality among young infants remains high, and accounts for an increasing proportion of child deaths in resource-poor settings. In such settings, clinical decisions for appropriate management of severely ill infants have to be made on the basis of presenting clinical signs, and with limited or no laboratory facilities. This review summarises the evidence from observational studies of clinical signs of severe illnesses in young infants aged 0–59 days, with a particular focus on defining a minimum set of best predictors of the need for hospital-level care. Available moderate to high quality evidence suggests that, among sick infants aged 0–59 days brought to a health facility, the following clinical signs—alone or in combination—are likely to be the most valuable in identifying infants at risk of severe illness warranting hospital-level care: history of feeding difficulty, history of convulsions, temperature (axillary) ≥37.5°C or <35.5°C, change in level of activity, fast breathing/respiratory rate ≥60 breaths per minute, severe chest indrawing, grunting and cyanosis.
doi:10.1136/adc.2010.186049
PMCID: PMC3081806  PMID: 21220263

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