Publications

2020
Larson E, Mbaruku GM, Cohen J, Kruk ME. Did a quality improvement intervention improve quality of maternal health care? Implementation evaluation from a cluster-randomized controlled study. Int J Qual Health Care. 2020;32 (1) :54-63. Abstract
OBJECTIVE: To test the success of a maternal healthcare quality improvement intervention in actually improving quality. DESIGN: Cluster-randomized controlled study with implementation evaluation; we randomized 12 primary care facilities to receive a quality improvement intervention, while 12 facilities served as controls. SETTING: Four districts in rural Tanzania. PARTICIPANTS: Health facilities (24), providers (70 at baseline; 119 at endline) and patients (784 at baseline; 886 at endline). INTERVENTIONS: In-service training, mentorship and supportive supervision and infrastructure support. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We measured fidelity with indictors of quality and compared quality between intervention and control facilities using difference-in-differences analysis. RESULTS: Quality of care was low at baseline: the average provider knowledge test score was 46.1% (range: 0-75%) and only 47.9% of women were very satisfied with delivery care. The intervention was associated with an increase in newborn counseling (β: 0.74, 95% CI: 0.13, 1.35) but no evidence of change across 17 additional indicators of quality. On average, facilities reached 39% implementation. Comparing facilities with the highest implementation of the intervention to control facilities again showed improvement on only one of the 18 quality indicators. CONCLUSIONS: A multi-faceted quality improvement intervention resulted in no meaningful improvement in quality. Evidence suggests this is due to both failure to sustain a high-level of implementation and failure in theory: quality improvement interventions targeted at the clinic-level in primary care clinics with weak starting quality, including poor infrastructure and low provider competence, may not be effective.
Smith Fawzi MC, Siril H, Larson E, Aloyce Z, Araya R, Kaale A, et al. Healthy Options: study protocol and baseline characteristics for a cluster randomized controlled trial of group psychotherapy for perinatal women living with HIV and depression in Tanzania. BMC Public Health. 2020;20 (1) :80. Abstract
BACKGROUND: Perinatal women accessing prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services are at an increased risk of depression; however, in Tanzania there is limited access to services provided by mental health professionals. This paper presents a protocol and baseline characteristics for a study evaluating a psychosocial support group intervention facilitated by lay community-based health workers (CBHWs) for perinatal women living with HIV and depression in Dar es Salaam. METHODS: A cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) is conducted comparing: 1) a psychosocial support group intervention; and 2) improved standard of mental health care. The study is implemented in reproductive and child health (RCH) centers providing PMTCT services. Baseline characteristics are presented by comparing sociodemographic characteristics and primary as well as secondary outcomes for the trial for intervention and control groups. The trial is registered under clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02039973). RESULTS: Among 742 women enrolled, baseline characteristics were comparable for intervention and control groups, although more women in the control group had completed secondary school (25.2% versus 18.2%). Overall, findings suggest that the population is highly vulnerable with over 45% demonstrating food insecurity and 17% reporting intimate partner violence in the past 6 months. CONCLUSIONS: Baseline characteristics for the cluster RCT were comparable for intervention and control groups. The trial will examine the effectiveness of a psychosocial support group intervention for the treatment of depression among women living with HIV accessing PMTCT services. A reduction in the burden of depression in this vulnerable population has implications in the short-term for improved HIV-related outcomes and for potential long-term effects on child growth and development. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial is registered under clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02039973). Retrospectively registered on January 20, 2014.
Larson E, Sharma J, Nasiri K, Bohren MA, Tunçalp Ö. Measuring experiences of facility-based care for pregnant women and newborns: a scoping review. BMJ Glob Health. 2020;5 (11). Abstract
BACKGROUND: Access to high-quality, person-centred care during pregnancy and childbirth is a global priority. Positive experience of care is key in particular, because it is both a fundamental right and can influence health outcomes and future healthcare utilisation. Despite its importance for accountability and action, systematic guidance on measuring experience of care is limited. METHODS: We conducted a scoping review of published literature to identify measures/instruments for experience of facility-based pregnancy and childbirth (abortion, antenatal, intrapartum, postnatal and newborn) care. We systematically searched five bibliographic databases from 1 January 2007 through 1 February 2019. Using a predefined evidence template, we extracted data on study design, data collection method, study population and care type as reported in primary quantitative articles. We report results narratively. RESULTS: We retrieved 16 528 unique citations, including 171 eligible articles representing, 157 unique instruments and 144 unique parent instruments across 56 countries. Half of the articles (90/171) did not use a validated instrument. While 82% (n=141) of articles reported on labour and childbirth care, only one reported on early pregnancy/abortion care. The most commonly reported sub-domains of user experience were communication (84%, 132/157) and respect and dignity (71%, 111/157). The primary purpose of most papers was measurement (70%, 119/171), largely through cross-sectional surveys. CONCLUSION: There are alarming gaps in measurement of user experience for abortion, antenatal, postnatal and newborn care, including lack of validated instruments to measure the effects of interventions and policies on user experience. PROTOCOL REGISTRATION DETAILS: This review was registered and published on PROSPERO (CRD42017070867). PROSPERO is an international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews in health and social care.
Poole DN, Liao S, Larson E, Hedt-Gauthier B, Raymond NA, Bärnighausen T, et al. Sequential screening for depression in humanitarian emergencies: a validation study of the Patient Health Questionnaire among Syrian refugees. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2020;19 :5. Abstract
Background: Despite the need for mental health surveillance in humanitarian emergencies, there is a lack of validated instruments. This study evaluated a sequential screening process for major depressive disorder (MDD) using the two- and eight-item Patient Health Questionnaires (PHQ-2 and PHQ-8, respectively). Methods: This study analyzed data collected during a cross-sectional survey in a Syrian refugee camp in Greece (n = 135). The response rate for each instrument was assessed, and response burden was calculated as the number of items completed. The sequential screening process was simulated to replicate the MDD classifications captured if the PHQ-2 was used to narrow the population receiving the full PHQ-8 assessment. All respondents were screened using the PHQ-2. Only respondents scoring ≥ 2 are considered at risk for symptoms of MDD and complete the remaining six items. The positive and negative percent agreement of this sequential screening process were evaluated. Results: The PHQ-2, PHQ-2/8 sequential screening process, and PHQ-8 were completed by 91%, 87%, and 84% of respondents, respectively. The sequential screening process had a positive percent agreement of 89% and a negative percent agreement of 100%, and eliminated the need to complete the full PHQ-8 scale for 34 (25%) respondents. Conclusions: The benefits of the sequential screening approach for the classification of MDD presented here are twofold: preserving classification accuracy relative to the PHQ-2 alone while reducing the response burden of the PHQ-8. This sequential screening approach is a pragmatic strategy for streamlining MDD surveillance in humanitarian emergencies.
Raifman J, Larson E, Barry CL, Siegel M, Ulrich M, Knopov A, et al. State handgun purchase age minimums in the US and adolescent suicide rates: regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences analyses. BMJ. 2020;370 :m2436. Abstract
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between US state policies that establish age 18 or 21 years as the minimum purchaser age for the sale of handguns and adolescent suicide rate. DESIGN: Regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences analyses. SETTING: 46 US states without policy changes between 2001 and 2017; Missouri and South Carolina, which lowered the age for handgun sales in 2007 and 2008, respectively; and West Virginia and Wyoming, which increased the age for handgun sales in 2010. PARTICIPANTS: Adolescents aged 13 to 20 years(554 461 961 from 2001 to 2017) in the regression discontinuity analysis, and adolescents aged 18 to 20 years (168 934 041 from 2002 to 2014) in the main difference-in-differences analysis. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Suicide rate per 100 000 adolescents. RESULTS: In the regression discontinuity analysis, state policies that limited the sale of handguns to those aged 18 or older (relative to 21 or older) were associated with an increase in suicide rate among adolescents aged 18 to 20 years equivalent to 344 additional suicides in each state where they were in place between 2001 and 2017. In the difference-in-differences analysis, state policies that limited the sale of handguns to those aged 21 or older were associated with 1.91 fewer suicides per 100 000 adolescents aged 18 to 20 years (95% confidence interval -3.13 to -0.70, permutation adjusted P=0.025). In the difference-in-differences analysis, there were 1.83 fewer firearm related suicides per 100 000 adolescents (-2.66 to -1.00, permutation adjusted P=0.002), with no association between age 21 handgun sales policies and non-firearm related suicides. Separate event study estimates indicated increases in suicide rates in states that lowered the age of handgun sales, with no association in states that increased the age of handgun sales. CONCLUSIONS: A clear discontinuity was shown in the suicide rate by age at age 18 in states that limited the sale of handguns to individuals aged 18 or older. State policies to limit the sale of handguns to individuals aged 21 or older were associated with a reduction in suicide rates among adolescents. Increases in suicide rates were observed after states lowered the age of handgun sales, but no effect was found in states that increased the age of handgun sales.
2019
Geldsetzer P, Mboggo E, Larson E, Lema IA, Magesa L, Machumi L, et al. Community health workers to improve uptake of maternal healthcare services: A cluster-randomized pragmatic trial in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PLoS Med. 2019;16 (3) :e1002768. Abstract
BACKGROUND: Home delivery and late and infrequent attendance at antenatal care (ANC) are responsible for substantial avoidable maternal and pediatric morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. This cluster-randomized trial aimed to determine the impact of a community health worker (CHW) intervention on the proportion of women who (i) visit ANC fewer than 4 times during their pregnancy and (ii) deliver at home. METHODS AND FINDINGS: As part of a 2-by-2 factorial design, we conducted a cluster-randomized trial of a home-based CHW intervention in 2 of 3 districts of Dar es Salaam from 18 June 2012 to 15 January 2014. Thirty-six wards (geographical areas) in the 2 districts were randomized to the CHW intervention, and 24 wards to the standard of care. In the standard-of-care arm, CHWs visited women enrolled in prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) care and provided information and counseling. The intervention arm included additional CHW supervision and the following additional CHW tasks, which were targeted at all pregnant women regardless of HIV status: (i) conducting home visits to identify pregnant women and refer them to ANC, (ii) counseling pregnant women on maternal health, and (iii) providing home visits to women who missed an ANC or PMTCT appointment. The primary endpoints of this trial were the proportion of pregnant women (i) not making at least 4 ANC visits and (ii) delivering at home. The outcomes were assessed through a population-based household survey at the end of the trial period. We did not collect data on adverse events. A random sample of 2,329 pregnant women and new mothers living in the study area were interviewed during home visits. At the time of the survey, the mean age of participants was 27.3 years, and 34.5% (804/2,329) were pregnant. The proportion of women who reported having attended fewer than 4 ANC visits did not differ significantly between the intervention and standard-of-care arms (59.1% versus 60.7%, respectively; risk ratio [RR]: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.82-1.15; p = 0.754). Similarly, the proportion reporting that they had attended ANC in the first trimester did not differ significantly between study arms. However, women in intervention wards were significantly less likely to report having delivered at home (3.9% versus 7.3%; RR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.30-0.95; p = 0.034). Mixed-methods analyses of additional data collected as part of this trial suggest that an important reason for the lack of effect on ANC outcomes was the perceived high economic burden and inconvenience of attending ANC. The main limitations of this trial were that (i) the outcomes were ascertained through self-report, (ii) the study was stopped 4 months early due to a change in the standard of care in the other trial that was part of the 2-by-2 factorial design, and (iii) the sample size of the household survey was not prespecified. CONCLUSIONS: A home-based CHW intervention in urban Tanzania significantly reduced the proportion of women who reported having delivered at home, in an area that already has very high uptake of facility-based delivery. The intervention did not affect self-reported ANC attendance. Policy makers should consider piloting, evaluating, and scaling interventions to lessen the economic burden and inconvenience of ANC. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01932138.
Larson E, Mbaruku G, Kujawski SA, Mashasi I, Kruk ME. Disrespectful treatment in primary care in rural Tanzania: beyond any single health issue. Health Policy Plan. 2019;34 (7) :508-513. Abstract
Knowing how patients are treated in care is foundational for creating patient-centred, high-quality health systems and identifying areas where policies and practices need to adapt to improve patient care. However, little is known about the prevalence of disrespectful treatment of patients in sub-Saharan Africa outside of maternity care. We used data from a household survey of 2002 women living in rural Tanzania to describe the extent of disrespectful care during outpatient visits, who receive disrespectful care, and determine the association with patient satisfaction, rating of quality and recommendation of the facility to others. We asked about women's most recent outpatient visit to the local clinic, including if they were made to feel disrespected, if a provider shouted at or scolded them, and if providers made negative or disparaging comments about them. Women who answered yes to any of these questions were considered to have experienced disrespectful care. We report risk ratios with standard errors clustered at the facility level. The most common reasons for seeking care were fever or malaria (33.9%), vaccination (33.6%) and non-emergent check-up (13.4%). Disrespectful care was reported by 14.3% of women and was more likely if the visit was for sickness compared to a routine check-up [risk ratio (RR): 1.6, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1-2.2]. Women who did not report disrespectful care were 2.1 times as likely to recommend the clinic (95% CI: 1.6-2.7). While there is currently a lot of attention on disrespectful maternity care, our results suggest that this is a problem that goes beyond this single health issue and should be addressed by more horizontal health system interventions and policies.
Larson E, Geldsetzer P, Mboggo E, Lema IA, Sando D, Ekström AM, et al. The effect of a community health worker intervention on public satisfaction: evidence from an unregistered outcome in a cluster-randomized controlled trial in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Hum Resour Health. 2019;17 (1) :23. Abstract
BACKGROUND: There is a dearth of evidence on the causal effects of different care delivery approaches on health system satisfaction. A better understanding of public satisfaction with the health system is particularly important within the context of task shifting to community health workers (CHWs). This paper determines the effects of a CHW program focused on maternal health services on public satisfaction with the health system among women who are pregnant or have recently delivered. METHODS: From January 2013 to April 2014, we carried out a cluster-randomized controlled health system implementation trial of a CHW program. Sixty wards in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were randomly allocated to either a maternal health CHW program (36 wards) or the standard of care (24 wards). From May to August 2014, we interviewed a random sample of women who were either currently pregnant or had recently delivered a child. We used five-level Likert scales to assess women's satisfaction with the CHW program and with the public-sector health system in Dar es Salaam. RESULTS: In total, 2329 women participated in the survey (response rate 90.2%). Households in intervention areas were 2.3 times as likely as households in control areas to have ever received a CHW visit (95% CI 1.8, 3.0). The intervention led to a 16-percentage-point increase in women reporting they were satisfied or very satisfied with the CHW program (95% CI 3, 30) and a 15-percentage-point increase in satisfaction with the public-sector health system (95% CI 3, 27). CONCLUSIONS: A CHW program for maternal and child health in Tanzania achieved better public satisfaction than the standard CHW program. Policy-makers and implementers who are involved in designing and organizing CHW programs should consider the potential positive impact of the program on public satisfaction. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, EJF22802.
Larson E, Gage AD, Mbaruku GM, Mbatia R, Haneuse S, Kruk ME. Effect of a maternal and newborn health system quality improvement project on the use of facilities for childbirth: a cluster-randomised study in rural Tanzania. Trop Med Int Health. 2019;24 (5) :636-646. Abstract
OBJECTIVES: Reduction in maternal and newborn mortality requires that women deliver in high quality health facilities. However, many facilities provide sub-optimal quality of care, which may be a reason for less than universal facility utilisation. We assessed the impact of a quality improvement project on facility utilisation for childbirth. METHODS: In this cluster-randomised experiment in four rural districts in Tanzania, 12 primary care clinics and their catchment areas received a quality improvement intervention consisting of in-service training, mentoring and supportive supervision, infrastructure support, and peer outreach, while 12 facilities and their catchment areas functioned as controls. We conducted a census of all deliveries within the catchment area and used difference-in-differences analysis to determine the intervention's effect on facility utilisation for childbirth. We conducted a secondary analysis of utilisation among women whose prior delivery was at home. We further investigated mechanisms for increased facility utilisation. RESULTS: The intervention led to an increase in facility births of 6.7 percentage points from a baseline of 72% (95% Confidence Interval: 0.6, 12.8). The intervention increased facility delivery among women with past home deliveries by 18.3 percentage points (95% CI: 10.1, 26.6). Antenatal quality increased in intervention facilities with providers performing an additional 0.5 actions across the full population and 0.8 actions for the home delivery subgroup. CONCLUSIONS: We attribute the increased use of facilities to better antenatal quality. This increased utilisation would lead to lower maternal mortality only in the presence of improvement in care quality.
Knopov A, Sherman RJ, Raifman JR, Larson E, Siegel MB. Household Gun Ownership and Youth Suicide Rates at the State Level, 2005-2015. Am J Prev Med. 2019;56 (3) :335-342. Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Determining whether the prevalence of gun ownership is associated with youth suicide is critical to inform policy to address this problem. The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between the prevalence of household gun ownership in a state and that state's rate of youth suicide. METHODS: This study, conducted in 2018, involved a secondary analysis of state-level data for the U.S. using multivariable linear regression. The relationship between the prevalence of household gun ownership and youth (aged 10-19 years) suicide rates was examined in a time-lagged analysis of state-level household gun ownership in 2004 and youth suicide rates in the subsequent decade (2005-2015), while controlling for the prevalence of youth suicide attempts and other risk factors. RESULTS: Household gun ownership was positively associated with the overall youth suicide rate. For each 10 percentage-point increase in household gun ownership, the youth suicide rate increased by 26.9% (95% CI=14.0%, 39.8%). CONCLUSIONS: Because states with high levels of household gun ownership are likely to experience higher youth suicide rates, these states should be especially concerned about implementing programs and policies to ameliorate this risk.
Larson E, Sharma J, Bohren MA, Tunçalp Ö. When the patient is the expert: measuring patient experience and satisfaction with care. Bull World Health Organ. 2019;97 (8) :563-569. Abstract
In 2018, three independent reports were published, emphasizing the need for attention to, and improvements in, quality of care to achieve effective universal health coverage. A key aspect of high quality health care and health systems is that they are person-centred, a characteristic that is at the same time intrinsically important (all individuals have the right to be treated with dignity and respect) and instrumentally important (person-centred care is associated with improved health-care utilization and health outcomes). Following calls to make 2019 a year of action, we provide guidance to policy-makers, researchers and implementers on how they can take on the task of measuring person-centred care. Theoretically, measures of person-centred care allow quality improvement efforts to be evaluated and ensure that health systems are accountable to those they aim to serve. However, in practice, the utility of these measures is limited by lack of clarity and precision in designing and by using measures for different aspects of person-centeredness. We discuss the distinction between two broad categories of measures of patient-centred care: patient experience and patient satisfaction. We frame our discussion of these measures around three key questions: (i) how will the results of this measure be used?; (ii) how will patient subjectivity be accounted for?; and (iii) is this measure validated or tested? By addressing these issues during the design phase, researchers will increase the usability of their measures.
2018
Mbatia R, Cohen J, Zuakulu M, Bukuku A, Chandarana S, Eliakimu E, et al. Basic Accountability to Stop Ill-Treatment (BASI); Study Protocol for a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Tanzania. Front Public Health. 2018;6 :273. Abstract
Poor health system experiences negatively affect the lives of poor people throughout the world. In East Africa, there is a growing body of evidence of poor quality care that in some cases is so poor that it is disrespectful or abusive. This study will assess whether community feedback through report cards (with and without non-financial rewards) can improve patient experience, which includes aspects of patient dignity, autonomy, confidentiality, communication, timely attention, quality of basic amenities, and social support. This cluster-randomized controlled study will randomize 75 primary health care facilities in rural Pwani Region, Tanzania to one of three arms: private feedback (intervention), social recognition reward through public reporting (intervention), or no feedback (control). Within both intervention arms, we will give the providers at the study facilities feedback on the quality of patient experience the facility provides (aggregate results from all providers) using data from patient surveys. The quality indicators that we report will address specific experiences, be observable by patients, fall into well-identified domains of patient experience, and be within the realm of action by healthcare providers. For example, we will measure the proportion of patients who report that providers definitely "explained things in a way that was easy to understand." This feedback will be delivered by a medical doctor to all the providers at the facility in a small group session. A formal discussion guide will be used. Facilities randomized to the social recognition intervention reward arm will have two additional opportunities for social recognition. First, a poster that displays their achieved level of patient experience will be publicly posted at the health facility and village government offices. Second, recognition from senior officials at the local NGO and/or the Ministry of Health will be given to the facility with the best or most-improved patient experience ratings at endline. We will use surveys with parents/guardians of sick children to measure patient experience, and surveys with healthcare providers to assess potential mechanisms of effect. Results from this study will provide evidence for whether, and through what mechanisms, patient reported feedback can affect interpersonal quality of care. 201710002649121 Protocol version 7, November 8, 2017.
2017
Ling EJ, Larson E, Macauley RJ, Kodl Y, VanDeBogert B, Baawo S, et al. Beyond the crisis: did the Ebola epidemic improve resilience of Liberia's health system?. Health Policy Plan. 2017;32 (suppl_3) :iii40-iii47. Abstract
Resilience was widely identified as a critical attribute for strong health systems following the 2014-15 West Africa Ebola epidemic. In Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, struggles to control the disease and suspension of the operation of many health services demonstrated that health systems must plan for resilience long before a crisis. However, the operational elements of resilience and ways that a crisis experience can shape resilience are not well described in the literature. To understand how a health system adapts to crisis and how the priorities of different health system actors influence this response we conducted interviews with global, national, and local respondents in Liberia between July and September 2015 (n = 108), several months after the country was first declared Ebola-free. We found that health system resilience functions prioritized by global and national actors improved to a greater extent than those valued by community leaders and local health actors over the course of the epidemic. Although the Ebola epidemic stimulated some positive adaptations in Liberia's health system, building a truly resilient health system will require longer-term investments and sustained attention long beyond the crisis.
Larson E, Leslie HH, Kruk ME. The determinants and outcomes of good provider communication: a cross-sectional study in seven African countries. BMJ Open. 2017;7 (6) :e014888. Abstract
OBJECTIVES: To determine the extent of provider communication, predictors of good communication and the association between provider communication and patient outcomes, such as patient satisfaction, in seven sub-Saharan African countries. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, multicountry study. SETTING: Data from recent Service Provision Assessment (SPA) surveys from seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa. SPA surveys include assessment of facility inputs and processes as well as interviews with caretakers of sick children. These data included 3898 facilities and 4627 providers. PARTICIPANTS: 16 352 caregivers visiting the facility for their sick children. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: We developed an index of four recommended provider communication items for a sick child assessment based on WHO guidelines. We assessed potential predictors of provider communication and considered whether better provider communication was associated with intent to return to the facility for care. RESULTS: The average score of the composite indicator of provider communication was low, at 35% (SD 26.9). Fifty-four per cent of caregivers reported that they were told the child's diagnosis, and only 10% reported that they were counselled on feeding for the child. Caregivers' educational attainment and provider preservice education and training in integrated management of childhood illness were associated with better communication. Private facilities and facilities with better infrastructure received higher communication scores. Caretakers reporting better communication were significantly more likely to state intent to return to the facility (relative risk: 1.19, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.22). CONCLUSIONS: There are major deficiencies in communication during sick child visits. These are associated with lower provider education as well as less well-equipped facilities. Poor communication, in turn, is linked to lower satisfaction and intention to return to facility among caregivers of sick children. Countries should test strategies for enhancing quality of communication in their efforts to improve health outcomes and patient experience.
Larson E, Vail D, Mbaruku GM, Mbatia R, Kruk ME. Beyond utilization: measuring effective coverage of obstetric care along the quality cascade. Int J Qual Health Care. 2017;29 (1) :104-110. Abstract
Objective: To determine the effective coverage of obstetric care in a rural Tanzanian region and to assess differences in effective coverage by wealth. Design: Cross-sectional structured interviews. Setting: Pwani Region, Tanzania. Participants: The study includes 24 rural, government-managed, primary healthcare clinics and their catchment populations. From January-April 2016, we conducted a household survey of a census of women with recent deliveries, health worker knowledge surveys and facility audits. Main Outcome Measures: We explored the proportion of women receiving quality care through the cascade and conducted an equity analysis by wealth. Results: In total, 2,910 of 3,564 women (81.6%) reported delivering their most recent child in a health facility, 1,096 of whom delivered in a study facility. Using a minimum threshold of quality, the effective coverage of obstetric care was 25%. Quality was lowest in the emergency care dimensions, with the average score on the provider knowledge tests at 47% and the average provision of basic emergency obstetric services below 50%. The wealthiest 20% of women were 4.1 times as likely to deliver in facilities offering at least the minimum threshold of quality care through the cascade compared to the poorest 80% of women (95% confidence interval: 1.5-11.3). Conclusions: Effective coverage of delivery care is very low, particularly among poorer women. Health worker knowledge caused the sharpest decline in effective coverage. Measures of effective coverage are a better performance measure of under-resourced health systems than utilization. Equity analyses can further identify important discrepancies in quality across socio-economic levels. Trial Registration: ISRCTN 17107760.
Geldsetzer P, Francis JM, Ulenga N, Sando D, Lema IA, Mboggo E, et al. The impact of community health worker-led home delivery of antiretroviral therapy on virological suppression: a non-inferiority cluster-randomized health systems trial in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. BMC Health Serv Res. 2017;17 (1) :160. Abstract
BACKGROUND: Home delivery of antiretroviral therapy (ART) by community health workers (CHWs) may improve ART retention by reducing the time burden and out-of-pocket expenditures to regularly attend an ART clinic. In addition, ART home delivery may shorten waiting times and improve quality of care for those in facility-based care by decongesting ART clinics. This trial aims to determine whether ART home delivery for patients who are clinically stable on ART combined with facility-based care for those who are not stable on ART is non-inferior to the standard of care (facility-based care for all ART patients) in achieving and maintaining virological suppression. METHODS: This is a non-inferiority cluster-randomized trial set in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A cluster is one of 48 healthcare facilities with its surrounding catchment area. 24 clusters were randomized to ART home delivery and 24 to the standard of care. The intervention consists of home visits by CHWs to provide counseling and deliver ART to patients who are stable on ART, while the control is the standard of care (facility-based ART and CHW home visits without ART home delivery). In addition, half of the healthcare facilities in each study arm were randomized to standard counseling during home visits (covering family planning, prevention of HIV transmission, and ART adherence), and half to standard plus nutrition counseling (covering food production and dietary advice). The non-inferiority design applies to the endpoints of the ART home delivery trial; the primary endpoint is the proportion of ART patients at a healthcare facility who are virally suppressed at the end of the study period. The margin of non-inferiority for this primary endpoint was set at nine percentage points. DISCUSSION: As the number of ART patients in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise, this trial provides causal evidence on the effectiveness of a home-based care model that could decongest ART clinics and reduce patients' healthcare expenditures. More broadly, this trial will inform the increasing policy interest in task-shifting of chronic disease care from facility- to community-based healthcare workers. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02711293 . Registration date: 16 March 2016.
Larson E, Rabkin M, Mbaruku GM, Mbatia R, Kruk ME. Missed Opportunities to Improve the Health of Postpartum Women: High Rates of Untreated Hypertension in Rural Tanzania. Matern Child Health J. 2017;21 (3) :407-413. Abstract
Objectives To assess the prevalence of high blood pressure amongst postpartum women in rural Tanzania, and to explore factors associated with hypertension prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control. Methods 1849 women in Tanzania's Pwani Region who delivered a child in the prior year participated in the study. We measured blood pressure, administered a structured questionnaire and assessed factors associated with the prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension (HTN) using bivariable and multivariable logistic regressions. Findings 26.7% of women had high blood pressure and/or were taking antihypertensive medication. Women were on average 27.5 years old (range 15-54). Nearly all women (99.5%) reported contact with the health system during their pregnancy and delivery, with an average of 5.2 visits for their own care in the past year. Only 23.5% of those with HTN were aware of their diagnosis, 17.4% were taking medication, and only 10.5% had controlled blood pressure. In multivariable analysis, facility delivery, health insurance, and increased distance from a hospital were associated with increased likelihood of HTN awareness; facility delivery and hospital distance were associated with current hypertensive treatment; younger age and increased hospital distance were associated with control of HTN. Conclusion The prevalence of high blood pressure in this postpartum population was high, and despite frequent recent contacts with the health system, awareness, treatment and control of HTN were low. These findings highlight an important missed opportunity to improve women's health during antenatal and postnatal care.
2016
Bristow CC, Larson E, Anderson LJ, Klausner JD. Cost-effectiveness of HIV and syphilis antenatal screening: a modelling study. Sex Transm Infect. 2016;92 (5) :340-6. Abstract
OBJECTIVES: The WHO called for the elimination of maternal-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV and syphilis, a harmonised approach for the improvement of health outcomes for mothers and children. Testing early in pregnancy, treating seropositive pregnant women and preventing syphilis reinfection can prevent MTCT of HIV and syphilis. We assessed the health and economic outcomes of a dual testing strategy in a simulated cohort of 100 000 antenatal care patients in Malawi. METHODS: We compared four screening algorithms: (1) HIV rapid test only, (2) dual HIV and syphilis rapid tests, (3) single rapid tests for HIV and syphilis and (4) HIV rapid and syphilis laboratory tests. We calculated the expected number of adverse pregnancy outcomes, the expected costs and the expected newborn disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for each screening algorithm. The estimated costs and DALYs for each screening algorithm were assessed from a societal perspective using Markov progression models. Additionally, we conducted a Monte Carlo multiway sensitivity analysis, allowing for ranges of inputs. RESULTS: Our cohort decision model predicted the lowest number of adverse pregnancy outcomes in the dual HIV and syphilis rapid test strategy. Additionally, from the societal perspective, the costs of prevention and care using a dual HIV and syphilis rapid testing strategy was both the least costly ($226.92 per pregnancy) and resulted in the fewest DALYs (116 639) per 100 000 pregnancies. In the Monte Carlo simulation the dual HIV and syphilis algorithm was always cost saving and almost always reduced DALYs compared with HIV testing alone. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the cost-effectiveness analysis showed that a dual HIV and syphilis test was cost saving compared with all other screening strategies. Updating existing prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programmes in Malawi and similar countries to include dual rapid testing for HIV and syphilis is likely to be advantageous.
Kruk ME, Larson E, Twum-Danso NAY. Time for a quality revolution in global health. Lancet Glob Health. 2016;4 (9) :e594-6.
2015
Bristow CC, Larson E, Javanbakht M, Huang E, Causer L, Klausner JD. A review of recent advances in rapid point-of-care tests for syphilis. Sex Health. 2015;Abstract
Syphilis is a curable disease, yet over 10million people worldwide are infected with syphilis each year. Syphilis case finding and subsequent treatment are key steps in syphilis control and prevention efforts. The advent of rapid point-of-care tests - which require minimal equipment, are easy to perform and are relatively low cost - have the potential to improve syphilis control by allowing for more widespread testing in clinical and non-clinical settings. However, strategies to maximise the potential public health impact of those tests are needed, and those include regulatory oversight, effective supply-chain management and quality assurance systems.

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