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1.  The need for pragmatic clinical trials in low and middle income settings – taking essential neonatal interventions delivered as part of inpatient care as an illustrative example 
BMC Medicine  2016;14:5.
Background
Pragmatic randomized trials aim to examine the effects of interventions in the full spectrum of patients seen by clinicians who receive routine care. Such trials should be employed in parallel with efforts to implement many interventions which appear promising but where evidence of effectiveness is limited. We illustrate this need taking the case of essential interventions to reduce inpatient neonatal mortality in low and middle income countries (LMIC) but suggest the arguments are applicable in most clinical areas.
Discussion
A set of basic interventions have been defined, based on available evidence, that could substantially reduce early neonatal deaths if successfully implemented at scale within district and sub-district hospitals in LMIC. However, we illustrate that there remain many gaps in the evidence available to guide delivery of many inpatient neonatal interventions, that existing evidence is often from high income settings and that it frequently indicates uncertainty in the magnitude or even direction of estimates of effect. Furthermore generalizing results to LMIC where conditions include very high patient staff ratios, absence of even basic technologies, and a reliance on largely empiric management is problematic. Where there is such uncertainty over the effectiveness of interventions in different contexts or in the broad populations who might receive the intervention in routine care settings pragmatic trials that preserve internal validity while promoting external validity should be increasingly employed.
Summary
Many interventions are introduced without adequate evidence of their effectiveness in the routine settings to which they are introduced. Global efforts are needed to support pragmatic research to establish the effectiveness in routine care of many interventions intended to reduce mortality or morbidity in LMIC. Such research should be seen as complementary to efforts to optimize implementation.
doi:10.1186/s12916-016-0556-z
PMCID: PMC4717536  PMID: 26782822
2.  Setting Healthcare Priorities at the Macro and Meso Levels: A Framework for Evaluation 
Background: Priority setting in healthcare is a key determinant of health system performance. However, there is no widely accepted priority setting evaluation framework. We reviewed literature with the aim of developing and proposing a framework for the evaluation of macro and meso level healthcare priority setting practices.
Methods: We systematically searched Econlit, PubMed, CINAHL, and EBSCOhost databases and supplemented this with searches in Google Scholar, relevant websites and reference lists of relevant papers. A total of 31 papers on evaluation of priority setting were identified. These were supplemented by broader theoretical literature related to evaluation of priority setting. A conceptual review of selected papers was undertaken.
Results: Based on a synthesis of the selected literature, we propose an evaluative framework that requires that priority setting practices at the macro and meso levels of the health system meet the following conditions: (1) Priority setting decisions should incorporate both efficiency and equity considerations as well as the following outcomes; (a) Stakeholder satisfaction, (b) Stakeholder understanding, (c) Shifted priorities (reallocation of resources), and (d) Implementation of decisions. (2) Priority setting processes should also meet the procedural conditions of (a) Stakeholder engagement, (b) Stakeholder empowerment, (c) Transparency, (d) Use of evidence, (e) Revisions, (f) Enforcement, and (g) Being grounded on community values.
Conclusion: Available frameworks for the evaluation of priority setting are mostly grounded on procedural requirements, while few have included outcome requirements. There is, however, increasing recognition of the need to incorporate both consequential and procedural considerations in priority setting practices. In this review, we adapt an integrative approach to develop and propose a framework for the evaluation of priority setting practices at the macro and meso levels that draws from these complementary schools of thought.
doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2015.167
PMCID: PMC4629697  PMID: 26673332
Priority Setting; Healthcare Rationing; Resource Allocation; Priority Setting Evaluation; Communitarianism
3.  In-service training for health professionals to improve care of seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries 
Background
A variety of in-service emergency care training courses are currently being promoted as a strategy to improve the quality of care provided to seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries. Most courses have been developed in high-income countries. However, whether these courses improve the ability of health professionals to provide appropriate care in low-income countries remains unclear. This is the first update of the original review.
Objectives
To assess the effects of in-service emergency care training on health professionals' treatment of seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries.
Search methods
For this update, we searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, part of The Cochrane Library (http://www.cochranelibrary.com); MEDLINE, Ovid SP; EMBASE, Ovid SP; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), part of The Cochrane Library (http://www.cochranelibrary.com) (including the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Group Specialised Register); Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index, Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Web of Knowledge/Science and eight other databases. We performed database searches in February 2015. We also searched clinical trial registries, websites of relevant organisations and reference lists of related reviews. We applied no date, language or publication status restrictions when conducting the searches.
Selection criteria
Randomised trials, non-randomised trials, controlled before and after studies and interrupted-time-series studies that compared the effects of in-service emergency care training versus usual care were eligible for inclusion. We included only hospital-based studies and excluded community-based studies. Two review authors independently screened and selected studies for inclusion.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed study risk of bias and confidence in effect estimates (certainty of evidence) for each outcome using GRADE (Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation). We described results and presented them in GRADE tables.
Main results
We identified no new studies in this update. Two randomised trials (which were included in the original review) met the review eligibility criteria. In the first trial, newborn resuscitation training compared with usual care improved provider performance of appropriate resuscitation (trained 66% vs usual care 27%, risk ratio 2.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.75 to 3.42; moderate certainty evidence) and reduced inappropriate resuscitation (trained mean 0.53 vs usual care 0.92, mean difference 0.40, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.66; moderate certainty evidence). Effect on neonatal mortality was inconclusive (trained 28% vs usual care 25%, risk ratio 0.77, 95% CI 0.40 to 1.48; N = 27 deaths; low certainty evidence). Findings from the second trial suggest that essential newborn care training compared with usual care probably slightly improves delivery room newborn care practices (assessment of breathing, preparedness for resuscitation) (moderate certainty evidence).
Authors' conclusions
In-service neonatal emergency care courses probably improve health professionals' treatment of seriously ill babies in the short term. Further multi-centre randomised trials evaluating the effects of in-service emergency care training on long-term outcomes (health professional practice and patient outcomes) are needed.
PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY
In-service training for health professionals to improve care of seriously ill newborns and children in low-income countries
What question was the review asking?
This is the first update of the original Cochrane review, whose objective was to find out whether additional emergency care training programmes can improve the ability of health workers in poor countries to care for seriously ill newborns and children admitted to hospitals. Researchers at The Cochrane Collaboration searched for all studies that could answer this question and found two relevant studies.
What are the key messages?
The review authors suggest that giving health professionals in poor countries additional training in emergency care probably improves their ability to care for seriously ill newborns. We need additional high-quality studies, including studies in which health professionals are trained to care for seriously ill older children.
Background: training health professionals to care for seriously ill babies and children
In poor countries, many babies and children with serious illnesses die even though they have been cared for in hospitals. One reason for this may be that health workers in these countries often are not properly trained to offer the care that these children need.
In poor countries, children often become seriously ill because of conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis and diarrhoea, and may need emergency care. For newborn babies, the most common reason for emergency care is too little oxygen to the baby during birth. If this goes on for too long, the person delivering the baby has to help the baby breathe, and sometimes has to get the baby's heart rate back to normal. This is called neonatal resuscitation.
Neonatal resuscitation is a skilled task, and the health worker needs proper training. As babies need to be resuscitated quickly, the health worker needs to know how to prepare for this before the baby is born. For instance, he or she needs to know how to prepare the room and proper equipment. Health workers in poor countries often do not have these skills, and these babies are likely to die. Babies can also be harmed if the health worker does not resuscitate the baby correctly.
Several training programmes have been developed to teach health workers how to give emergency care to seriously ill babies and children. But most of these have been developed and tested in wealthy countries, and we don't know whether they would work in poor countries.
What happens when health professionals in poor countries are given extra training?
The review authors found two relevant studies. These studies compared the practices of health professionals who had been given extra training in the care of newborns with the practices of health professionals who did not receive extra training.
In the first study, nurses at a maternity hospital in Kenya completed a one-day training course on how to resuscitate newborn babies. This course was adapted from the UK Resuscitation Council, and it included lectures and practical training. The study suggests that after these training courses:
health professionals are probably more likely to resuscitate newborn babies correctly (moderate certainty of the evidence); and
newborn babies may be less likely to die while being resuscitated (low certainty of the evidence).
In the second study, doctors, nurses and midwives in five Sri Lankan hospitals were given a four-day training course on how to prepare for and provide care for newborns. This course was adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO) Training Modules on Essential Newborn Care and Breastfeeding, and included lectures, demonstrations, hands-on training and small group discussions. This study suggests that after these training courses:
health professionals probably are more likely to be well prepared to resuscitate newborn babies (moderate certainty of the evidence).
Unfortunately, the two studies followed up with health professionals for only two to three months after they received training. We therefore don't know if the benefits of the training courses lasted over time.
The review authors found no studies that looked at the effects of training programmes on the care of older children.
How up-to-date is this review?
Review authors searched for studies that had been published up to February 2015.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007071.pub3
PMCID: PMC4463987  PMID: 25968066
4.  An Unsupported Preference for Intravenous Antibiotics 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(5):e1001825.
Philip Bejon and colleagues reflect on the widespread belief in the superiority of intravenous antibiotics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001825
PMCID: PMC4437896  PMID: 25992781
5.  Access to and value of information to support good practice for staff in Kenyan hospitals 
Global Health Action  2015;8:10.3402/gha.v8.26559.
Background
Studies have sought to define information needs of health workers within very specific settings or projects. Lacking in the literature is how hospitals in low-income settings are able to meet the information needs of their staff and the use of information communication technologies (ICT) in day-to-day information searching.
Objective
The study aimed to explore where professionals in Kenyan hospitals turn to for work-related information in their day-to-day work. Additionally, it examined what existing solutions are provided by hospitals with regard to provision of best practice care. Lastly, the study explored the use of ICT in information searching.
Design
Data for this study were collected in July 2012. Self-administered questionnaires (SAQs) were distributed across 22 study hospitals with an aim to get a response from 34 health workers per hospital.
Results
SAQs were collected from 657 health workers. The most popular sources of information to guide work were fellow health workers and printed guidelines while the least popular were scientific journals. Of value to health workers were: national treatment policies, new research findings, regular reports from surveillance data, information on costs of services and information on their performance of routine clinical tasks; however, hospitals only partially met these needs. Barriers to accessing information sources included: ‘not available/difficult to get’ and ‘difficult to understand’. ICT use for information seeking was reported and with demographic specific differences noted from the multivariate logistic regression model; nurses compared to medical doctors and older workers were less likely to use ICT for health information searching. Barriers to accessing Internet were identified as: high costs and the lack of the service at home or at work.
Conclusions
Hospitals need to provide appropriate information by improving information dissemination efforts and providing an enabling environment that allows health workers find the information they need for best practice.
doi:10.3402/gha.v8.26559
PMCID: PMC4433485  PMID: 25979113
health information; information needs of health workers; ICT; information sources; information seeking
6.  Exploring sources of variability in adherence to guidelines across hospitals in low-income settings: a multi-level analysis of a cross-sectional survey of 22 hospitals 
Background
Variability in processes of care and outcomes has been reported widely in high-income settings (at geographic, hospital, physician group and individual physician levels); however, such variability and the factors driving it are rarely examined in low-income settings.
Methods
Using data from a cross-sectional survey undertaken in 22 hospitals (60 case records from each hospital) across Kenya that aimed at evaluating the quality of routine hospital services, we sought to explore variability in four binary inpatient paediatric process indicators. These included three prescribing tasks and use of one diagnostic. To examine for sources of variability, we examined intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and their changes using multi-level mixed models with random intercepts for hospital and clinician levels and adjusting for patient and clinician level covariates.
Results
Levels of performance varied substantially across indicators and hospitals. The absolute values for ICCs also varied markedly ranging from a maximum of 0.48 to a minimum of 0.09 across the models for HIV testing and prescription of zinc, respectively. More variation was attributable at the hospital level than clinician level after allowing for nesting of clinicians within hospitals for prescription of quinine loading dose for malaria (ICC = 0.30), prescription of zinc for diarrhoea patients (ICC = 0.11) and HIV testing for all children (ICC = 0.43). However, for prescription of correct dose of crystalline penicillin, more of the variability was explained by the clinician level (ICC = 0.21). Adjusting for clinician and patient level covariates only altered, marginally, the ICCs observed in models for the zinc prescription indicator.
Conclusions
Performance varied greatly across place and indicator. The variability that could be explained suggests interventions to improve performance might be best targeted at hospital level factors for three indicators and clinician factors for one. Our data suggest that better understanding of performance and sources of variation might help tailor improvement interventions although further data across a larger set of indicators and sites would help substantiate these findings.
doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0245-x
PMCID: PMC4416316  PMID: 25928803
Intra-class correlation; Variability; Paediatrics; Hospitals; Clinicians; Low-income settings; Multi-level models; Pneumonia; Malaria; Diarrhoea/dehydration
7.  Oral Amoxicillin versus Benzyl Penicillin for Severe Pneumonia among Kenyan Children: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Non-inferiority Trial 
Background
There are concerns that the evidence from studies showing non-inferiority of oral amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin for severe pneumonia may not be generalizable to high mortality settings.
Methods
An open-label multicenter randomized controlled non-inferiority trial was conducted at six Kenyan hospitals. Eligible children aged 2 – 59 months were randomized to receive amoxicillin or benzyl penicillin and followed up for the primary outcome of treatment failure at 48 hours. A non-inferiority margin of risk difference between amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin groups was pre-specified at 7%.
Results
We recruited 527 children including 302 (57.3%) with co-morbidity. Treatment failure was observed in 20/260 (7.7%)and 21/261 (8.0%) of patients in the amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin arms respectively (risk difference −0.3%, 95% confidence interval (CI) −5.0 to 4.3) in per protocol analyses. These findings were supported by the results of intention to treat analyses. Treatment failure by day 5 post-enrolment was 11.4% and 11.0% and rising to 13.5% and 16.8% by day 14 in the amoxicillin versus benzyl penicillin groups respectively. The most frequent cause of cumulative treatment failure at day 14 was clinical deterioration within 48 hours of enrolment (33/59; 55.9%). Four patients died (overall mortality 0.8%) during the study, three of whom were allocated to the benzyl penicillin group. The presence of wheeze was independently associated with less frequent treatment failure.
Conclusions
Our findings confirm non-inferiority of amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin, provide estimates of risk of treatment failure in Kenya and offer important additional evidence for policy making in sub-Saharan Africa
doi:10.1093/cid/ciu1166
PMCID: PMC4370168  PMID: 25550349
8.  Delivery outcomes and patterns of morbidity and mortality for neonatal admissions in five Kenyan hospitals 
Journal of Tropical Pediatrics  2015;61(4):255-259.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted in neonatal and maternity units of five Kenyan district public hospitals. Data for 1 year were obtained: 3999 maternal and 1836 neonatal records plus tallies of maternal deaths, deliveries and stillbirths. There were 40 maternal deaths [maternal mortality ratio: 276 per 100 000 live births, 95% confidence interval (CI): 197–376]. Fresh stillbirths ranged from 11 to 43 per 1000 births. A fifth (19%, 263 of 1384, 95% CI: 11–30%) of the admitted neonates died. Compared with normal birth weight, odds of death were significantly higher in all of the low birth weight (LBW, <2500 g) categories, with the highest odds for the extremely LBW (<1000 g) category (odds ratio: 59, 95% CI: 21–158, p < 0.01). The observed maternal mortality, stillbirths and neonatal mortality call for implementation of the continuum of care approach to intervention delivery with particular emphasis on LBW babies.
doi:10.1093/tropej/fmv024
PMCID: PMC4514903  PMID: 25841436
Neonatal morbidity and mortality; maternal mortality; still births; hospital care; developing countries
9.  Moving towards Routine Evaluation of Quality of Inpatient Pediatric Care in Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0117048.
Background
Regular assessment of quality of care allows monitoring of progress towards system goals and identifies gaps that need to be addressed to promote better outcomes. We report efforts to initiate routine assessments in a low-income country in partnership with government.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey undertaken in 22 ‘internship training’ hospitals across Kenya that examined availability of essential resources and process of care based on review of 60 case-records per site focusing on the common childhood illnesses (pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea/dehydration, malnutrition and meningitis).
Results
Availability of essential resources was 75% (45/61 items) or more in 8/22 hospitals. A total of 1298 (range 54–61) case records were reviewed. HIV testing remained suboptimal at 12% (95% CI 7–19). A routinely introduced structured pediatric admission record form improved documentation of core admission symptoms and signs (median score for signs 22/22 and 8/22 when form used and not used respectively). Correctness of penicillin and gentamicin dosing was above 85% but correctness of prescribed intravenous fluid or oral feed volumes for severe dehydration and malnutrition were 54% and 25% respectively. Introduction of Zinc for diarrhea has been relatively successful (66% cases) but use of artesunate for malaria remained rare. Exploratory analysis suggests considerable variability of the quality of care across hospitals.
Conclusion
Quality of pediatric care in Kenya has improved but can improve further. The approach to monitoring described in this survey seems feasible and provides an opportunity for routine assessments across a large number of hospitals as part of national efforts to sustain improvement. Understanding variability across hospitals may help target improvement efforts.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117048
PMCID: PMC4378956  PMID: 25822492
10.  Assessment of neonatal care in clinical training facilities in Kenya 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2014;100(1):42-47.
Objective
An audit of neonatal care services provided by clinical training centres was undertaken to identify areas requiring improvement as part of wider efforts to improve newborn survival in Kenya.
Design
Cross-sectional study using indicators based on prior work in Kenya. Statistical analyses were descriptive with adjustment for clustering of data.
Setting
Neonatal units of 22 public hospitals.
Patients
Neonates aged <7 days.
Main outcome measures
Quality of care was assessed in terms of availability of basic resources (principally equipment and drugs) and audit of case records for documentation of patient assessment and treatment at admission.
Results
All hospitals had oxygen, 19/22 had resuscitation and phototherapy equipment, but some key resources were missing—for example kangaroo care was available in 14/22. Out of 1249 records, 56.9% (95% CI 36.2% to 77.6%) had a standard neonatal admission form. A median score of 0 out of 3 for symptoms of severe illness (IQR 0–3) and a median score of 6 out of 8 for signs of severe illness (IQR 4–7) were documented. Maternal HIV status was documented in 674/1249 (54%, 95% CI 41.9% to 66.1%) cases. Drug doses exceeded recommendations by >20% in prescriptions for penicillin (11.6%, 95% CI 3.4% to 32.8%) and gentamicin (18.5%, 95% CI 13.4% to 25%), respectively.
Conclusions
Basic resources are generally available, but there are deficiencies in key areas. Poor documentation limits the use of routine data for quality improvement. Significant opportunities exist for improvement in service delivery and adherence to guidelines in hospitals providing professional training.
doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-306423
PMCID: PMC4283661  PMID: 25138104
Neonatology; Health services research; Measurement; Evidence Based Medicine; Data Collection
11.  Oral Amoxicillin Versus Benzyl Penicillin for Severe Pneumonia Among Kenyan Children: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial 
Evidence demonstrating noninferiority of oral amoxicillin vs benzyl penicillin for severe childhood pneumonia is largely drawn from Asian populations where mortality is low. This study confirms noninferiority and is expected to inform policy on treatment of pneumonia in sub-Saharan Africa.
Background. There are concerns that the evidence from studies showing noninferiority of oral amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin for severe pneumonia may not be generalizable to high-mortality settings.
Methods. An open-label, multicenter, randomized controlled noninferiority trial was conducted at 6 Kenyan hospitals. Eligible children aged 2–59 months were randomized to receive amoxicillin or benzyl penicillin and followed up for the primary outcome of treatment failure at 48 hours. A noninferiority margin of risk difference between amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin groups was prespecified at 7%.
Results. We recruited 527 children, including 302 (57.3%) with comorbidity. Treatment failure was observed in 20 of 260 (7.7%) and 21 of 261 (8.0%) of patients in the amoxicillin and benzyl penicillin arms, respectively (risk difference, −0.3% [95% confidence interval, −5.0% to 4.3%]) in per-protocol analyses. These findings were supported by the results of intention-to-treat analyses. Treatment failure by day 5 postenrollment was 11.4% and 11.0% and rising to 13.5% and 16.8% by day 14 in the amoxicillin vs benzyl penicillin groups, respectively. The most frequent cause of cumulative treatment failure at day 14 was clinical deterioration within 48 hours of enrollment (33/59 [55.9%]). Four patients died (overall mortality 0.8%) during the study, 3 of whom were allocated to the benzyl penicillin group. The presence of wheeze was independently associated with less frequent treatment failure.
Conclusions. Our findings confirm noninferiority of amoxicillin to benzyl penicillin, provide estimates of risk of treatment failure in Kenya, and offer important additional evidence for policy making in sub-Saharan Africa.
Clinical Trial Registration. NCT01399723.
doi:10.1093/cid/ciu1166
PMCID: PMC4370168  PMID: 25550349
childhood pneumonia; sub-Saharan Africa; amoxicillin; treatment failure; World Health Organization
12.  Knowledge and skills retention following Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission course for final year medical students in Rwanda: a longitudinal cohort study 
Archives of disease in childhood  2014;99(11):993-997.
Aim
To determine whether, after the Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission (ETAT+) course, a comprehensive paediatric life support course, final year medical undergraduates in Rwanda would achieve a high level of knowledge and practical skills and if these were retained. To guide further course development, student feedback was obtained.
Methods
Longitudinal cohort study of knowledge and skills of all final year medical undergraduates at the University of Rwanda in academic year 2011–2012 who attended a 5-day ETAT+ course. Students completed a precourse knowledge test. Knowledge and clinical skills assessments, using standardised marking, were performed immediately postcourse and 3–9 months later. Feedback was obtained using printed questionnaires.
Results
84 students attended the course and re-evaluation. Knowledge test showed a significant improvement, from median 47% to 71% correct answers (p<0.001). For two clinical skills scenarios, 98% passed both scenarios, 37% after a retake, 2% failed both scenarios. Three to nine months later, students were re-evaluated, median score for knowledge test 67%, not significantly different from postcourse (p>0.1). For clinical skills, 74% passed, with 32% requiring a retake, 8% failed after retake, 18% failed both scenarios, a significant deterioration (p<0.0001).
Conclusions
Students performed well on knowledge and skills immediately after a comprehensive ETAT+ course. Knowledge was maintained 3–9 months later. Clinical skills, which require detailed sequential steps, declined, but most were able to perform them satisfactorily after feedback. The course was highly valued, but several short courses and more practical teaching were advocated.
doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-306078
PMCID: PMC4198299  PMID: 24925893
13.  Knowledge and skills retention following Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission course for final year medical students in Rwanda: a longitudinal cohort study 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2014;99(11):993-997.
Aim
To determine whether, after the Emergency Triage, Assessment and Treatment plus Admission (ETAT+) course, a comprehensive paediatric life support course, final year medical undergraduates in Rwanda would achieve a high level of knowledge and practical skills and if these were retained. To guide further course development, student feedback was obtained.
Methods
Longitudinal cohort study of knowledge and skills of all final year medical undergraduates at the University of Rwanda in academic year 2011–2012 who attended a 5-day ETAT+ course. Students completed a precourse knowledge test. Knowledge and clinical skills assessments, using standardised marking, were performed immediately postcourse and 3–9 months later. Feedback was obtained using printed questionnaires.
Results
84 students attended the course and re-evaluation. Knowledge test showed a significant improvement, from median 47% to 71% correct answers (p<0.001). For two clinical skills scenarios, 98% passed both scenarios, 37% after a retake, 2% failed both scenarios. Three to nine months later, students were re-evaluated, median score for knowledge test 67%, not significantly different from postcourse (p>0.1). For clinical skills, 74% passed, with 32% requiring a retake, 8% failed after retake, 18% failed both scenarios, a significant deterioration (p<0.0001).
Conclusions
Students performed well on knowledge and skills immediately after a comprehensive ETAT+ course. Knowledge was maintained 3–9 months later. Clinical skills, which require detailed sequential steps, declined, but most were able to perform them satisfactorily after feedback. The course was highly valued, but several short courses and more practical teaching were advocated.
doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-306078
PMCID: PMC4198299  PMID: 24925893
Medical Education; Accident & Emergency; Resuscitation; Low income populations; Rwanda
14.  Assessing the ability of health information systems in hospitals to support evidence-informed decisions in Kenya 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.24859.
Background
Hospital management information systems (HMIS) is a key component of national health information systems (HIS), and actions required of hospital management to support information generation in Kenya are articulated in specific policy documents. We conducted an evaluation of core functions of data generation and reporting within hospitals in Kenya to facilitate interpretation of national reports and to provide guidance on key areas requiring improvement to support data use in decision making.
Design
The survey was a cross-sectional, cluster sample study conducted in 22 hospitals in Kenya. The statistical analysis was descriptive with adjustment for clustering.
Results
Most of the HMIS departments complied with formal guidance to develop departmental plans. However, only a few (3/22) had carried out a data quality audit in the 12 months prior to the survey. On average 3% (range 1–8%) of the total hospital income was allocated to the HMIS departments. About half of the records officer positions were filled and about half (13/22) of hospitals had implemented some form of electronic health record largely focused on improving patient billing and not linked to the district HIS. Completeness of manual patient registers varied, being 90% (95% CI 80.1–99.3%), 75.8% (95% CI 68.7–82.8%), and 58% (95% CI 50.4–65.1%) in maternal child health clinic, maternity, and pediatric wards, respectively. Vital events notification rates were low with 25.7, 42.6, and 71.3% of neonatal deaths, infant deaths, and live births recorded, respectively. Routine hospital reports suggested slight over-reporting of live births and under-reporting of fresh stillbirths and neonatal deaths.
Conclusions
Study findings indicate that the HMIS does not deliver quality data. Significant constraints exist in data quality assurance, supervisory support, data infrastructure in respect to information and communications technology application, human resources, financial resources, and integration.
doi:10.3402/gha.v7.24859
PMCID: PMC4119289  PMID: 25084834
health information system; hospital management information system; data quality
15.  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
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  Setting healthcare priorities in hospitals: a review of empirical studies 
Health Policy and Planning  2014;30(3):386-396.
Priority setting research has focused on the macro (national) and micro (bedside) level, leaving the meso (institutional, hospital) level relatively neglected. This is surprising given the key role that hospitals play in the delivery of healthcare services and the large proportion of health systems resources that they absorb. To explore the factors that impact upon priority setting at the hospital level, we conducted a thematic review of empirical studies. A systematic search of PubMed, EBSCOHOST, Econlit databases and Google scholar was supplemented by a search of key websites and a manual search of relevant papers’ reference lists. A total of 24 papers were identified from developed and developing countries. We applied a policy analysis framework to examine and synthesize the findings of the selected papers. Findings suggest that priority setting practice in hospitals was influenced by (1) contextual factors such as decision space, resource availability, financing arrangements, availability and use of information, organizational culture and leadership, (2) priority setting processes that depend on the type of priority setting activity, (3) content factors such as priority setting criteria and (4) actors, their interests and power relations. We observe that there is need for studies to examine these issues and the interplay between them in greater depth and propose a conceptual framework that might be useful in examining priority setting practices in hospitals.
doi:10.1093/heapol/czu010
PMCID: PMC4353893  PMID: 24604831
Priority setting; healthcare rationing; healthcare planning; hospitals
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  Evidence review of hydroxyurea for the prevention of sickle cell complications in low-income countries 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2013;98(11):908-914.
Hydroxyurea is widely used in high-income countries for the management of sickle cell disease (SCD) in children. In Kenyan clinical guidelines, hydroxyurea is only recommended for adults with SCD. Yet many deaths from SCD occur in early childhood, deaths that might be prevented by an effective, disease modifying intervention. The aim of this review was to summarise the available evidence on the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of hydroxyurea in the management of SCD in children below 5 years of age to support guideline development in Kenya. We undertook a systematic review and used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system to appraise the quality of identified evidence. Overall, available evidence from 1 systematic review (n=26 studies), 2 randomised controlled trials (n=354 children), 14 observational studies and 2 National Institute of Health reports suggest that hydroxyurea may be associated with improved fetal haemoglobin levels, reduced rates of hospitalisation, reduced episodes of acute chest syndrome and decreased frequency of pain events in children with SCD. However, it is associated with adverse events (eg, neutropenia) when high to maximum tolerated doses are used. Evidence is lacking on whether hydroxyurea improves survival if given to young children. Majority of the included studies were of low quality and mainly from high-income countries. Overall, available limited evidence suggests that hydroxyurea may improve morbidity and haematological outcomes in SCD in children aged below 5 years and appears safe in settings able to provide consistent haematological monitoring.
doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-302387
PMCID: PMC3812872  PMID: 23995076
Genetics; Haematology
24.  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
25.  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

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