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1.  Service delivery in Kenyan district hospitals – what can we learn from literature on mid-level managers? 
Background
There is a growing emphasis on the need to tackle inadequate human resources for health (HRH) as an essential part of strengthening health systems; but the focus is mostly on macro-level issues, such as training, recruitment, skill mix and distribution. Few attempts have been made to understand the capability of health workers, their motivation and other structural and organizational aspects of systems that influence workforce performance. We have examined literature on the roles of mid-level managers to help us understand how they might influence service delivery quality in Kenyan hospitals. In the Kenyan hospital settings, these are roles that head of departments who are also clinical or nursing service providers might play.
Methods
A computerized search strategy was run in Pub Med, Cochrane Library, Directory of Open Access Journals Social Science Research Network, Eldis, Google Scholar and Human Resources for Health web site databases using both free-text and MeSH terms from 1980 to 2011. In addition, citation searching from excluded and included articles was used and relevant unpublished literature systematically identified.
Results and discussion
A total of 23 articles were finally included in the review from over 7000 titles and abstracts initially identified. The most widely documented roles of mid-level managers were decision-making or problem-solving, strategist or negotiator and communicator. Others included being a therapist or motivator, goal setting or articulation and mentoring or coaching. In addition to these roles, we identified important personal attributes of a good manager, which included interpersonal skills, delegation and accountability, and honesty. The majority of studies included in the review concerned the roles that mid-level managers are expected to play in times of organizational change.
Conclusion
This review highlights the possible significance of mid-level managers in achieving delivery of high-quality services in Kenyan public hospitals and strongly suggests that approaches to strengthen this level of management will be valuable. The findings from this review should also help inform empirical studies of the roles of mid-level managers in these settings.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-11-10
PMCID: PMC3599555  PMID: 23442524
Competencies; Health care settings; Hospitals; Middle managers; Mid-level managers; Roles
2.  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
3.  Documenting the experiences of health workers expected to implement guidelines during an intervention study in Kenyan hospitals 
Background
Although considerable efforts are directed at developing international guidelines to improve clinical management in low-income settings they appear to influence practice rarely. This study aimed to explore barriers to guideline implementation in the early phase of an intervention study in four district hospitals in Kenya.
Methods
We developed a simple interview guide based on a simple characterisation of the intervention informed by review of major theories on barriers to uptake of guidelines. In-depth interviews, non-participatory observation, and informal discussions were then used to explore perceived barriers to guideline introduction and general improvements in paediatric and newborn care. Data were collected four to five months after in-service training in the hospitals. Data were transcribed, themes explored, and revised in two rounds of coding and analysis using NVivo 7 software, subjected to a layered analysis, reviewed, and revised after discussion with four hospital staff who acted as within-hospital facilitators.
Results
A total of 29 health workers were interviewed. Ten major themes preventing guideline uptake were identified: incomplete training coverage; inadequacies in local standard setting and leadership; lack of recognition and appreciation of good work; poor communication and teamwork; organizational constraints and limited resources; counterproductive health worker norms; absence of perceived benefits linked to adoption of new practices; difficulties accepting change; lack of motivation; and conflicting attitudes and beliefs.
Conclusion
While the barriers identified are broadly similar in theme to those reported from high-income settings, their specific nature often differs. For example, at an institutional level there is an almost complete lack of systems to introduce or reinforce guidelines, poor teamwork across different cadres of health worker, and failure to confront poor practice. At an individual level, lack of interest in the evidence supporting guidelines, feelings that they erode professionalism, and expectations that people should be paid to change practice threaten successful implementation.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-44
PMCID: PMC2726115  PMID: 19627591
4.  Implementation experience during an eighteen month intervention to improve paediatric and newborn care in Kenyan district hospitals 
Background
We have conducted an intervention study aiming to improve hospital care for children and newborns in Kenya. In judging whether an intervention achieves its aims, an understanding of how it is delivered is essential. Here, we describe how the implementation team delivered the intervention over 18 months and provide some insight into how health workers, the primary targets of the intervention, received it.
Methods
We used two approaches. First, a description of the intervention is based on an analysis of records of training, supervisory and feedback visits to hospitals, and brief logs of key topics discussed during telephone calls with local hospital facilitators. Record keeping was established at the start of the study for this purpose with analyses conducted at the end of the intervention period. Second, we planned a qualitative study nested within the intervention project and used in-depth interviews and small group discussions to explore health worker and facilitators' perceptions of implementation. After thematic analysis of all interview data, findings were presented, discussed, and revised with the help of hospital facilitators.
Results
Four hospitals received the full intervention including guidelines, training and two to three monthly support supervision and six monthly performance feedback visits. Supervisor visits, as well as providing an opportunity for interaction with administrators, health workers, and facilitators, were often used for impromptu, limited refresher training or orientation of new staff. The personal links that evolved with senior staff seemed to encourage local commitment to the aims of the intervention. Feedback seemed best provided as open meetings and discussions with administrators and staff. Supervision, although sometimes perceived as fault finding, helped local facilitators become the focal point of much activity including key roles in liaison, local monitoring and feedback, problem solving, and orientation of new staff to guidelines. In four control hospitals receiving a minimal intervention, local supervision and leadership to implement new guidelines, despite their official introduction, were largely absent.
Conclusion
The actual content of an intervention and how it is implemented and received may be critical determinants of whether it achieves its aims. We have carefully described our intervention approach to facilitate appraisal of the quantitative results of the intervention's effect on quality of care. Our findings suggest ongoing training, external supportive supervision, open feedback, and local facilitation may be valuable additions to more typical in-service training approaches, and may be feasible.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-45
PMCID: PMC2724482  PMID: 19627594

Results 1-4 (4)