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1.  Assessment of paediatric inpatient care during a multifaceted quality improvement intervention in Kenyan District Hospitals – use of prospectively collected case record data 
Background
In assessing quality of care in developing countries, retrospectively collected data are usually used given their availability. Retrospective data however suffer from such biases as recall bias and non-response bias. Comparing results obtained using prospectively and retrospectively collected data will help validate the use of the easily available retrospective data in assessing quality of care in past and future studies.
Methods
Prospective and retrospective datasets were obtained from a cluster randomized trial of a multifaceted intervention aimed at improving paediatric inpatient care conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals by improving management of children admitted with pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea and/or dehydration. Four hospitals received a full intervention and four a partial intervention. Data were collected through 3 two weeks surveys conducted at baseline, after 6 and 18 months. Retrospective data was sampled from paediatric medical records of patients discharged in the preceding six months of the survey while prospective data was collected from patients discharged during the two week period of each survey. Risk Differences during post-intervention period of16 quality of care indicators were analyzed separately for prospective and retrospective datasets and later plotted side by side for comparison.
Results
For the prospective data there was strong evidence of an intervention effect for 8 of the indicators and weaker evidence of an effect for one indicator, with magnitude of effect sizes varying from 23% to 60% difference. For the retrospective data, 10 process (these include the 8 indicators found to be statistically significant in prospective data analysis) indicators had statistically significant differences with magnitude of effects varying from 10% to 42%. The bar-graph comparing results from the prospective and retrospective datasets showed similarity in terms of magnitude of effects and statistical significance for all except two indicators.
Conclusion
Multifaceted interventions can help improve adoption of clinical guidelines and hence improve the quality of care. The similar inference reached after analyses based on prospective assessment of case management is a useful finding as it supports the utility of work based on examination of retrospectively assembled case records allowing longer time periods to be studied while constraining costs.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612. Trial registration date: 20/11/2008
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-312
PMCID: PMC4110369  PMID: 25035114
Quality improvement; Prospective; Retrospective; Paediatrics; Health services research; Kenya
2.  Using health worker opinions to assess changes in structural components of quality in a Cluster Randomized Trial 
Background
The ‘resource readiness’ of health facilities to provide effective services is captured in the structure component of the classical Donabedian paradigm often used for assessment of the quality of care in the health sector. Periodic inventories are commonly used to confirm the presence (or absence) of equipment or drugs by physical observation or by asking those in charge to indicate whether an item is present or not. It is then assumed that this point observation is representative of the everyday status. However the availability of an item (consumables) may vary. Arguably therefore a more useful assessment for resources would be one that captures this fluctuation in time. Here we report an approach that may circumvent these difficulties.
Methods
We used self-administered questionnaires (SAQ) to seek health worker views of availability of key resources supporting paediatric care linked to a cluster randomized trial of a multifaceted intervention aimed at improving this care conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals. Four hospitals received a full intervention and four a partial intervention. Data were collected pre-intervention and after 6 and 18 months from health workers in three clinical areas asked to score item availability using an 11-point scale. Mean scores for items common to all 3 areas and mean scores for items allocated to domains identified using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) were used to describe availability and explore changes over time.
Results
SAQ were collected from 1,156 health workers. EFA identified 11 item domains across the three departments. Mean availability scores for these domains were often <5/10 at baseline reflecting lack of basic resources such as oxygen, nutrition and second line drugs. An improvement in mean scores occurred in 8 out of 11 domains in both control and intervention groups. A calculation of difference in difference of means for intervention vs. control suggested an intervention effect resulting in greater changes in 5 out of 11 domains.
Conclusion
Using SAQ data to assess resource availability experienced by health workers provides an alternative to direct observations that provide point prevalence estimates. Further the approach was able to demonstrate poor access to resources, change over time and variability across place.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-282
PMCID: PMC4082497  PMID: 24974166
Quality improvement; Child health; Paediatrics; Health services research
3.  Burden of disease in adults admitted to hospital in a rural region of coastal Kenya: an analysis of data from linked clinical and demographic surveillance systems 
The Lancet Global Health  2014;2(4):e216-e224.
Summary
Background
Estimates of the burden of disease in adults in sub-Saharan Africa largely rely on models of sparse data. We aimed to measure the burden of disease in adults living in a rural area of coastal Kenya with use of linked clinical and demographic surveillance data.
Methods
We used data from 18 712 adults admitted to Kilifi District Hospital (Kilifi, Kenya) between Jan 1, 2007, and Dec 31, 2012, linked to 790 635 person-years of observation within the Kilifi Health and Demographic Surveillance System, to establish the rates and major causes of admission to hospital. These data were also used to model disease-specific disability-adjusted life-years lost in the population. We used geographical mapping software to calculate admission rates stratified by distance from the hospital.
Findings
The main causes of admission to hospital in women living within 5 km of the hospital were infectious and parasitic diseases (303 per 100 000 person-years of observation), pregnancy-related disorders (239 per 100 000 person-years of observation), and circulatory illnesses (105 per 100 000 person-years of observation). Leading causes of hospital admission in men living within 5 km of the hospital were infectious and parasitic diseases (169 per 100 000 person-years of observation), injuries (135 per 100 000 person-years of observation), and digestive system disorders (112 per 100 000 person-years of observation). HIV-related diseases were the leading cause of disability-adjusted life-years lost (2050 per 100 000 person-years of observation), followed by non-communicable diseases (741 per 100 000 person-years of observation). For every 5 km increase in distance from the hospital, all-cause admission rates decreased by 11% (95% CI 7–14) in men and 20% (17–23) in women. The magnitude of this decline was highest for endocrine disorders in women (35%; 95% CI 22–46) and neoplasms in men (30%; 9–45).
Interpretation
Adults in rural Kenya face a combined burden of infectious diseases, pregnancy-related disorders, cardiovascular illnesses, and injuries. Disease burden estimates based on hospital data are affected by distance from the hospital, and the amount of underestimation of disease burden differs by both disease and sex.
Funding
The Wellcome Trust, GAVI Alliance.
doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(14)70023-3
PMCID: PMC3986034  PMID: 24782954
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  An intervention to improve paediatric and newborn care in Kenyan district hospitals: Understanding the context 
Background
It is increasingly appreciated that the interpretation of health systems research studies is greatly facilitated by detailed descriptions of study context and the process of intervention. We have undertaken an 18-month hospital-based intervention study in Kenya aiming to improve care for admitted children and newborn infants. Here we describe the baseline characteristics of the eight hospitals as environments receiving the intervention, as well as the general and local health system context and its evolution over the 18 months.
Methods
Hospital characteristics were assessed using previously developed tools assessing the broad structure, process, and outcome of health service provision for children and newborns. Major health system or policy developments over the period of the intervention at a national level were documented prospectively by monitoring government policy announcements, the media, and through informal contacts with policy makers. At the hospital level, a structured, open questionnaire was used in face-to-face meetings with senior hospital staff every six months to identify major local developments that might influence implementation. These data provide an essential background for those seeking to understand the generalisability of reports describing the intervention's effects, and whether the intervention plausibly resulted in these effects.
Results
Hospitals had only modest capacity, in terms of infrastructure, equipment, supplies, and human resources available to provide high-quality care at baseline. For example, hospitals were lacking between 30 to 56% of items considered necessary for the provision of care to the seriously ill child or newborn. An increase in spending on hospital renovations, attempts to introduce performance contracts for health workers, and post-election violence were recorded as examples of national level factors that might influence implementation success generally. Examples of factors that might influence success locally included frequent and sometimes numerous staff changes, movements of senior departmental or administrative staff, and the presence of local 'donor' partners with alternative priorities.
Conclusion
The effectiveness of interventions delivered at hospital level over periods realistically required to achieve change may be influenced by a wide variety of factors at national and local levels. We have demonstrated how dynamic such contexts are, and therefore the need to consider context when interpreting an intervention's effectiveness.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-42
PMCID: PMC2724481  PMID: 19627588
12.  Case Management of Childhood Pneumonia in Developing Countries 
Pneumonia is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children worldwide. Appropriate management depends on accurate assessment of disease severity which for the majority of children in developing countries is based on clinical signs alone. This paper reviews recent evidence on clinical assessment and severity classification of pneumonia and reported results on the effectiveness of currently recommended treatments.
Methods:
Potential studies for inclusion were identified by MEDLINE (1990 - 2006) search. The Oxford Center for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) criteria were used to describe the methodologic quality of selected studies.
Results:
In the included studies the sensitivity of current definitions of tachypnea for diagnosing radiologic pneumonia ranged from 72% to 94% with specificities between 38% and 99%; chest indrawing had reported sensitivities of between 46-78%. Data provide some support for the value of current clinical criteria for classifying pneumonia severity with those meeting severe or very severe criteria being at considerably increased risk of death, hypoxemia or bacteraemia. Results of randomized controlled trials report clinically defined improvement at 48 hrs in at least 80% of children treated using recommended antibiotics. However, a limitation of these data may include inappropriate definitions of treatment failure. Particularly with regard to severe pneumonia issues that specifically need to be addressed are: the adequacy of penicillin monotherapy, or oral amoxicillin, or alternative antibiotics; the timing of introduction of high dose trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole in children at risk of or known to be infected by HIV and the value of pulse oximetry.
doi:10.1097/01.inf.0000260107.79355.7d
PMCID: PMC2654069  PMID: 17468655
pneumonia; developing countries; clinical signs; case management
13.  Developing and Introducing Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Serious Illness in Kenya 
Archives of disease in childhood  2008;93(9):799-804.
The under-5 mortality rate in most developing countries remains high yet many deaths could be averted if available knowledge was put into practice. For seriously ill children in hospital investigations in low-income countries commonly demonstrate incorrect diagnosis and treatment and frequent prescribing errors. To help improve hospital management of the major causes of inpatient childhood mortality we developed simple clinical guidelines for use in Kenya, a low-income setting. The participatory process we used to adapt existing WHO materials and further develop and build support for such guidelines is discussed. To facilitate use of the guidelines we also developed job-aides and a 5.5 days training programme for their dissemination and implementation. We attempted to base our training on modern theories around adult learning and deliberately attempted to train a ‘critical mass’ of health workers within each institution at low cost. Our experience suggests that with sustained effort it is possible to develop locally owned, appropriate clinical practice guidelines for emergency and initial hospital care for seriously ill children with involvement of pertinent stake holders throughout. Early experience suggests that the training developed to support the guidelines, despite the fact that it challenges many established practices, is well received, appropriate to the needs of front line health workers in Kenya and feasible. To our knowledge the process described in Kenya is among a handful of attempts globally to implement inpatient or referral care components of WHO / UNICEF’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness approach. However, whether guideline dissemination and implementation result in improved quality of care in our environment remains to be seen.
doi:10.1136/adc.2007.126508
PMCID: PMC2654066  PMID: 18719161
14.  The economic burden of inpatient paediatric care in Kenya: household and provider costs for treatment of pneumonia, malaria and meningitis 
Background
Knowledge of treatment cost is essential in assessing cost effectiveness in healthcare. Evidence of the potential impact of implementing available interventions against childhood illnesses in developing countries challenges us to define the costs of treating these diseases. The purpose of this study is to describe the total costs associated with treatment of pneumonia, malaria and meningitis in children less than five years in seven Kenyan hospitals.
Methods
Patient resource use data were obtained from largely prospective evaluation of medical records and household expenditure during illness was collected from interviews with caretakers. The estimates for costs per bed day were based on published data. A sensitivity analysis was conducted using WHO-CHOICE values for costs per bed day.
Results
Treatment costs for 572 children (pneumonia = 205, malaria = 211, meningitis = 102 and mixed diagnoses = 54) and household expenditure for 390 households were analysed. From the provider perspective the mean cost per admission at the national hospital was US $95.58 for malaria, US $177.14 for pneumonia and US $284.64 for meningitis. In the public regional or district hospitals the mean cost per child treated ranged from US $47.19 to US $81.84 for malaria and US $54.06 to US $99.26 for pneumonia. The corresponding treatment costs in the mission hospitals were between US $43.23 to US $88.18 for malaria and US $ 43.36 to US $142.22 for pneumonia. Meningitis was treated for US $ 189.41 at the regional hospital and US $ 201.59 at one mission hospital. The total treatment cost estimates were sensitive to changes in the source of bed day costs. The median treatment related household payments within quintiles defined by total household expenditure differed by type of facility visited. Public hospitals recovered up to 40% of provider costs through user charges while mission facilities recovered 44% to 100% of costs.
Conclusion
Treatments cost for inpatient malaria, pneumonia and meningitis vary by facility type, with mission and tertiary referral facilities being more expensive compared to primary referral. Households of sick children contribute significantly towards provider cost through payment of user fees. These findings could be used in cost effectiveness analysis of health interventions.
doi:10.1186/1478-7547-7-3
PMCID: PMC2640355  PMID: 19161598
15.  Out-of-pocket costs for paediatric admissions in district hospitals in Kenya 
Objective
To describe out-of-pocket costs of inpatient care for children under 5 years of age in district hospitals in Kenya.
Methods
A total of 256 caretakers of admitted children were interviewed in 2-week surveys conducted in eight hospitals in four provinces in Kenya. Caretakers were asked to report care seeking behaviour and expenditure related to accessing inpatient care. Family socio-economic status was assessed through reported expenditure in the previous month.
Results
Seventy eight percent of caretakers were required to pay user charges to access inpatient care for children. User charges (mean, US$ 8.1; 95% CI, 6.4–9.7) were 59% of total out-of-pocket costs, while transport costs (mean, US$ 4.9; 95% CI, 3.9–6.0) and medicine costs (mean, US$ 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5–1.0) were 36% and 5%, respectively. The mean total out-of-pocket cost per paediatric admission was US$ 14.1 (95% CI, 11.9–16.2). Out-of-pocket expenditures on health were catastrophic for 25.4% (95% CI, 18.4–33.3) of caretakers interviewed. Out-of-pocket expenditures were regressive, with a greater burden being experienced by households with lower socio-economic status.
Conclusion
Despite a policy of user fee exemption for children under 5 years of age in Kenya, our findings show that high unofficial user fees are still charged in district hospitals. Financing mechanisms that will offer financial risk protection to children seeking care need to be developed to remove barriers to child survival.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2012.03029.x
PMCID: PMC3440593  PMID: 22716184
user fees; out-of-pocket costs; child health; hospitals
16.  Adoption of recommended practices and basic technologies in a low-income setting 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2014;99(5):452-456.
Objective
In global health considerable attention is focused on the search for innovations; however, reports tracking their adoption in routine hospital settings from low-income countries are absent.
Design and setting
We used data collected on a consistent panel of indicators during four separate cross-sectional, hospital surveys in Kenya to track changes over a period of 11 years (2002–2012).
Main outcome measures
Basic resource availability, use of diagnostics and uptake of recommended practices.
Results
There appeared little change in availability of a panel of 28 basic resources (median 71% in 2002 to 82% in 2012) although availability of specific feeds for severe malnutrition and vitamin K improved. Use of blood glucose and HIV testing increased but remained inappropriately low throughout. Commonly (malaria) and uncommonly (lumbar puncture) performed diagnostic tests frequently failed to inform practice while pulse oximetry, a simple and cheap technology, was rarely available even in 2012. However, increasing adherence to prescribing guidance occurred during a period from 2006 to 2012 in which efforts were made to disseminate guidelines.
Conclusions
Findings suggest changes in clinical practices possibly linked to dissemination of guidelines at reasonable scale. However, full availability of basic resources was not attained and major gaps likely exist between the potential and actual impacts of simple diagnostics and technologies representing problems with availability, adoption and successful utilisation. These findings are relevant to debates on scaling up in low-income settings and to those developing novel therapeutic or diagnostic interventions.
doi:10.1136/archdischild-2013-305561
PMCID: PMC3995214  PMID: 24482351
Health services research; Tropical Paediatrics

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