Increasing Healthy Start food and vitamin voucher uptake for low income pregnant women (Early Years Collaborative Leith Pioneer Site).
ABSTRACT: Poverty has a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing. Healthy Start food and vitamin vouchers provide support for low income families across the UK, but at least 25% of eligible women and children miss out. We set out to increase uptake, with an aim of 90% of eligible women and children (n~540 eligible, varying over time) receiving vouchers in the initial team's catchment area by December 2015. Starting with one midwife and one pregnant woman in March 2014 we used the model for improvement to identify ways to improve documentation, sign up, and referral. Weekly data on process measures and monthly data on voucher receipt were plotted on run charts. Comparing medians for January-June 2014 and March-August 2015 there was a 13.3% rise in voucher receipt in Lothian (increase from 313 to 355 women), versus an 8.4% decline for the rest of Scotland (fall from 1688 to 1546 women). Figures varied by team, influenced by staff, family, and area factors. The initial aim proved unrealistic, as signing up a woman for vouchers increases both the numerator and denominator. Accordingly, the percentage uptake has not increased at a regional level (remains at 75%), though the figure for the initiating team ("team 3" in graphs) has increased from 73.0% (January 2014) to 79.0% (November 2015). We have continued testing, achieving recent increases in the number of women referred for welfare rights advice on benefits, tax credits, employment rights, childcare, and debt, securing on average £4,500 per client during 2015/16 (£404k for 89 clients by mid September 2015). This improvement project, part of the Early Years Collaborative in Scotland, has had a measureable impact on pregnant women across Lothian. Success has relied on testing, an electronic maternity record, rapid dissemination of findings through direct engagement with clinical teams, and persistence. Our findings have relevance across the UK, particularly at a time of worsening finances for many families.
Project description:We evaluated the effects and financial costs of two interventions with respect to utilisation of institutional deliveries and other maternal health services in Oyam District in Uganda.We conducted a quasi-experimental study involving intervention and comparable/control sub-counties in Oyam District for 12 months (January-December 2014). Participants were women receiving antenatal care, delivery and postnatal care services. We evaluated two interventions: the provision of (1) transport vouchers to women receiving antenatal care and delivering at two health centres (level II) in Acaba sub-county, and (2) baby kits to women who delivered at Ngai Health Centre (level III) in Ngai sub-county. The study outcomes included service coverage of institutional deliveries, four antenatal care visits, postnatal care, and the percentage of women 'bypassing' maternal health services inside their resident sub-counties. We calculated the effect of each intervention on study outcomes using the difference in differences analysis. We calculated the cost per institutional delivery and the cost per unit increment in institutional deliveries for each intervention.Overall, transport vouchers had greater effects on all four outcomes, whereas baby kits mainly influenced institutional deliveries. The absolute increase in institutional deliveries attributable to vouchers was 42.9%; the equivalent for baby kits was 30.0%. Additionally, transport vouchers increased the coverage of four antenatal care visits and postnatal care service coverage by 60.0% and 49.2%, respectively. 'Bypassing' was mainly related to transport vouchers and ranged from 7.2% for postnatal care to 11.9% for deliveries. The financial cost of institutional delivery was US$9.4 per transport voucher provided, and US$10.5 per baby kit. The incremental cost per unit increment in institutional deliveries in the transport-voucher system was US$15.9; the equivalent for the baby kit was US$30.6.The transport voucher scheme effectively increased utilisation of maternal health services whereas the baby-kit scheme was only effective in increasing institutional deliveries. The transport vouchers were less costly than the baby kits in the promotion of institutional deliveries. Such incentives can be sustainable if the Ministry of Health integrates them in the health system.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In many developing countries, the maternal mortality ratio remains high with huge poor-rich inequalities. Programmes aimed at improving maternal health and preventing maternal mortality often fail to reach poor women. Vouchers in health and Health Equity Funds (HEFs) constitute a financial mechanism to improve access to priority health services for the poor. We assess their effectiveness in improving access to skilled birth attendants for poor women in three rural health districts in Cambodia and draw lessons for further improvement and scaling-up. METHODS: Data on utilisation of voucher and HEF schemes and on deliveries in public health facilities between 2006 and 2008 were extracted from the available database, reports and the routine health information system. Qualitative data were collected through focus group discussions and key informant interviews. We examined the trend of facility deliveries between 2006 and 2008 in the three health districts and compared this with the situation in other rural districts without voucher and HEF schemes. An operational analysis of the voucher scheme was carried out to assess its effectiveness at different stages of operation. RESULTS: Facility deliveries increased sharply from 16.3% of the expected number of births in 2006 to 44.9% in 2008 after the introduction of voucher and HEF schemes, not only for voucher and HEF beneficiaries, but also for self-paid deliveries. The increase was much more substantial than in comparable districts lacking voucher and HEF schemes. In 2008, voucher and HEF beneficiaries accounted for 40.6% of the expected number of births among the poor. We also outline several limitations of the voucher scheme. CONCLUSIONS: Vouchers plus HEFs, if carefully designed and implemented, have a strong potential for reducing financial barriers and hence improving access to skilled birth attendants for poor women. To achieve their full potential, vouchers and HEFs require other interventions to ensure the supply of sufficient quality maternity services and to address other non-financial barriers to demand. If these conditions are met, voucher and HEF schemes can be further scaled up under close monitoring and evaluation.
Project description:Scientific findings need to be verifiable and grounded in repeatability. With specimen-level research this is in part achieved with the deposition of voucher specimens. These are labeled, curated, data-based specimens that have been deposited in a collection or museum, available for verification of the work and to ensure researchers are calling the same taxa by the same names. Voucher specimens themselves are the subject of research, from the discovery of new species by taxonomists to ecologists documenting historical records of invasive species. Our objective was to quantify the frequency of voucher specimen deposition in biodiversity and community ecology research through a survey of the peer-reviewed literature about arthropods, from 1989 until 2014. Overall rates of voucher deposition were alarmingly low, at under 25%. This rate increased significantly over time, with 35% of papers reporting on vouchers in 2014. Relative to the global mean, entomological research had a significantly higher rate of voucher deposition (46%), whereas researchers studying crustaceans deposited vouchers less than 6% of the time, significantly less than the mean. Researchers working in museums had a significantly higher frequency of voucher deposition. Our results suggest a significant culture shift about the process of vouchering specimens is required. There must be more education and mentoring about voucher specimens within laboratories and across different fields of study. Principal investigators and granting agencies need a proactive approach to ensuring specimen-level data are properly, long-term curated. Editorial boards and journals can also adopt policies to ensure papers are published only if explicit statements about the deposition of voucher specimens is provided. Although the gap is significant, achieving a higher rate of voucher specimen deposition is a worthy goal to ensure all research efforts are preserved for future generations.
Project description:Background:The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides participants seasonal Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers to purchase fruits and vegetables (FV) at farmers' markets and monthly cash value vouchers (CVV) redeemable at farmers' markets. Despite the promise of FMNP vouchers and CVV for improving FV access among WIC participants, voucher redemption rates are low. This study evaluated WIC Fresh Start (WFS), a theory-driven, web-based lesson to promote FV intake, the redemption of CVV at farmers' markets, FMNP voucher redemption, and farmers' market-related knowledge, attitudes, and skills among women enrolled in WIC. Methods:The lesson was evaluated in a four-arm randomized controlled trial. The setting was a large New Jersey-based WIC agency located in a densely populated, urban area. Participants (N = 744) were stratified based on FMNP voucher receipt and randomized to receive the WFS lesson or WIC online existing health education. Lesson effects on targeted outcomes were examined at posttest (2 weeks after the lesson) and 3 and 6 months after posttesting. Results:Receipt of the WFS lesson was associated with FMNP voucher redemption (in the subset of participants preferring to speak Spanish); improvements in knowledge of the FMNP, locally grown seasonal items, seasonal items found at farmers' markets in July, WIC-authorized farmers' markets and food- and farmers' market-specific knowledge; ever having purchased and intentions to purchase FV at a farmers' market; FV food safety and preparation skills; and modest gains in the redemption of CVV at farmers' markets. FV intake did not differ over time by trial arm. Conclusions:Findings aid understanding of effective approaches to promote farmers' market use and farmers' market-related knowledge and skills among WIC participants. Further research is needed to explore factors that may explain the lack of lesson effects on FV intake. Trial registration:NCT02565706.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Pakistan has the second highest fertility rate in South Asia and its increasing population growth presents a significant challenge for country's path to progress and development. Modern contraceptive methods only account for a slow-rising 26% of use in Pakistan which is further lowest in the underserved areas (<?20%), with a high unmet need for family planning (20%). The David and Lucile Packard Foundation USA and Pakistan funded two operational research projects from 2012 to 2015, that employed a Demand-side Financing (DSF) approach testing the effectiveness of single and multi-purpose voucher schemes in increasing access and uptake of FP services and products among the women of two-lowest income quintiles in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The present paper presents a study protocol which intends to assess the longer term impact of these two voucher intervention programs among married women of reproductive age (MWRA) who received contraceptive services through vouchers. METHODS:This will be a mixed methods study using qualitative and quantitative approaches. A quantitative cross sectional survey will measure the contraceptive uptake among voucher users, included in the endline survey and to examine the attitudes and behaviour of women with respect to contraceptive continuation, switching and discontinuation 24 months post intervention in two districts of Chakwal and Faisalabad in Punjab province of Pakistan. Qualitative in-depth interviews will be conducted with FP service providers operating in intervention areas and with key policy makers in the public sector to examine and document the service provider perspective on sustainability on contraceptive practices and behaviour in the post project closure period within the intervention areas. DISCUSSION:Globally, there is almost negligible direct evidence on the assessment of longer-term impact of a demand-side financing programs using free or subsidized vouchers for family planning services especially during post-intervention period or when donor money runs out. The findings of this study will help fill the knowledge gap in the context of sustainability issues post-intervention and will provide information to policy makers to develop and plan contraceptive services in the target area to sustain the positive behaviour change in the population.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Large-scale emergency assistance programmes in Somalia use a variety of transfer modalities including in-kind food provision, food vouchers, and cash transfers. Evidence is needed to better understand whether and how such modalities differ in reducing the risk of acute malnutrition in vulnerable groups, such as the 800,000 pregnant and lactating women affected by the 2017/18 food crisis. METHODS:Changes in diet and acute malnutrition status were assessed among pregnant and lactating women receiving similarly sized household transfers over a four-month period (total value of ~US$450 per household) delivered either as food vouchers or as mixed transfers consisting of in-kind food, vouchers, and cash. Baseline and endline comparisons were conducted for 514 women in Wajid, Somalia. Primary study outcomes were Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women, meal frequency, and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC), with MUAC<21.0 cm classified as acute malnutrition. Adjusted analyses consisted of difference-in-difference analysis using linear and logistic regression models with inverse probability weighting based on propensity scores to account for the non-randomized design. FINDINGS:No significant difference in change in dietary quality was observed between food voucher and mixed transfer recipients; a significant difference in change in mean meal frequency was observed (0.3 meals/day, CI: 0.1-0.5, p = 0.001) and the mixed transfer group had significantly greater meal frequency at endline (p<0.001). Mean MUAC increased significantly among both voucher (0.9cm, CI: 0.6-1.3, p = 0.001) and mixed transfer recipients (1.3cm, CI: 1.1-1.5, p = 0.001) over the intervention period in adjusted analysis, however, the difference in magnitude of change between the two groups was not statistically significant (0.4cm, CI: -0.1-0.08, p = 0.086). CONCLUSIONS:Within the context of the 2017/18 Somalia food crisis, the modality of assistance provided to pregnant and lactating women (mixed transfers or food-vouchers) made no difference in preventing acute malnutrition and protecting nutritional status.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Poverty undermines the adherence of patients to tuberculosis treatment. A pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted to investigate the extent to which economic support in the form of a voucher would improve patients' adherence to treatment, and their treatment outcomes. Although the trial showed a modest improvement in the treatment success rates of the intervention group, this was not statistically significant, due in part to the low fidelity to the trial intervention. A qualitative process evaluation, conducted in the final few months of the trial, explained some of the factors that contributed to this low fidelity.<h4>Methods</h4>In-depth interviews were conducted with patients who received vouchers, nurses in intervention clinics, personnel in shops who administered the vouchers, and managers of the TB Control Programme. These interviews were analyzed thematically.<h4>Results</h4>The low fidelity to the trial intervention can be explained by two main factors. The first was nurses' tendency to 'ration' the vouchers, only giving them to the most needy of eligible patients and leaving out those eligible patients whom they felt were financially more comfortable. The second was logistical issues related to the administration of the voucher as vouchers were not always available for patients on their appointed clinic dates, necessitating further visits to the clinics which they were not always able to make.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This process evaluation identifies some of the most important factors that contributed to the results of this pragmatic trial. It highlights the value of process evaluations as tools to explain the results of randomized trials and emphasizes the importance of implementers as 'street level bureaucrats' who may profoundly affect the way an intervention is administered.<h4>Trial registration</h4>Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN50689131, registered 21 April 2009. The trial protocol is available at the following web address: http://www.hst.org.za/publications/study-protocol-economic-incentives-improving-clinical-outcomes-patients-tb-south-africa.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Poverty undermines adherence to tuberculosis treatment. Economic support may both encourage and enable patients to complete treatment. In South Africa, which carries a high burden of tuberculosis, such support may improve the currently poor outcomes of patients on tuberculosis treatment. The aim of this study was to test the feasibility and effectiveness of delivering economic support to patients with pulmonary tuberculosis in a high-burden province of South Africa.<h4>Methods</h4>This was a pragmatic, unblinded, two-arm cluster-randomized controlled trial, where 20 public sector clinics acted as clusters. Patients with pulmonary tuberculosis in intervention clinics (n?=?2,107) were offered a monthly voucher of ZAR120.00 (approximately US$15) until the completion of their treatment. Vouchers were redeemed at local shops for foodstuffs. Patients in control clinics (n?=?1,984) received usual tuberculosis care.<h4>Results</h4>Intention to treat analysis showed a small but non-significant improvement in treatment success rates in intervention clinics (intervention 76.2%; control 70.7%; risk difference 5.6% (95% confidence interval: -1.2%, 12.3%), P?=?0.107). Low fidelity to the intervention meant that 36.2% of eligible patients did not receive a voucher at all, 32.3% received a voucher for between one and three months and 31.5% received a voucher for four to eight months of treatment. There was a strong dose-response relationship between frequency of receipt of the voucher and treatment success (P <0.001).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our pragmatic trial has shown that, in the real world setting of public sector clinics in South Africa, economic support to patients with tuberculosis does not significantly improve outcomes on treatment. However, the low fidelity to the delivery of our voucher meant that a third of eligible patients did not receive it. Among patients in intervention clinics who received the voucher at least once, treatment success rates were significantly improved. Further operational research is needed to explore how best to ensure the consistent and appropriate delivery of such support to those eligible to receive it.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To examine the perceptions of community members and other stakeholders on the use of baby kits and transport vouchers to improve the utilisation of childbirth services. DESIGN:A qualitative study. SETTING:Oyam district, Uganda. PARTICIPANTS:We conducted 10 focus group discussions with 59 women and 55 men, and 18 key informant interviews with local leaders, village health team members, health facility staff and district health management team members. We analysed the data using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS:Five broad themes emerged: (1) context, (2) community support for the interventions, (3) health-seeking behaviours postintervention, (4) undesirable effects of the interventions and (5) implementation issues and lessons learnt. Context regarded perceived long distances to health facilities and high transport costs. Regarding community support for the interventions, the schemes were perceived to be acceptable and helpful particularly to the most vulnerable. Transport vouchers were preferred over baby kits, although both interventions were perceived to be necessary. Health-seeking behaviours entailed perceived increased utilisation of maternal health services and 'bypassing', promotion of collaboration between traditional birth attendants and formal health workers, stimulation of men's involvement in maternal health, and increased community awareness of maternal health. Undesirable effects of the interventions included increased workload for health workers, sustainability concerns and perceived encouragement to reproduce and dependency. Implementation issues included information gaps leading to confusion, mistrust and discontent, transport voucher scheme design; implementation; and payment problems, poor attitude of some health workers and poor quality of care, insecurity, and a shortage of baby kits. Community involvement was key to solving the challenges. CONCLUSIONS:The study provides further insights into the implementation of incentive schemes to improve maternal health services utilisation. The findings are relevant for planning and implementing similar schemes in low-income countries.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>As part of its ongoing healthcare reform, the Hong Kong Government introduced a voucher scheme, intended for encouraging older patients to use primary healthcare services in the private sector, thereby, reducing burden on the overwhelmed public sector. The voucher program is also considered one of the strategies to further develop the public private partnership in healthcare, a policy direction of high political priority as indicated in the Chief Executive Policy Address in 2008-09. This study assessed whether the voucher scheme, as implemented so far, has reached its intended goals, and how it might be further improved in the context of public-private partnership.<h4>Methods</h4>This was a cross-sectional study using structured questionnaires by face-to-face interviews with older people aged 70 or above in Hong Kong, the target group of the demand-side voucher program.<h4>Results</h4>71.2% of 1,026 older people were aware of the new voucher scheme but only 35.0% had ever used it. The majority of the older people used the vouchers for acute curative services in the private sector (82.4%) and spent less on preventive services. Despite the provision of vouchers valued US$30 per year as an incentive to encourage the use of private primary care services, after 12-months of implementation, 66.2% of all respondents agreed with the statement that "the voucher scheme does not change their health seeking behaviours on seeing public or private healthcare professionals". The most common reasons for no change in their behaviours included "I am used to seeing doctors in the public system" and "The amount of the subsidy is too low". Those who usually used a mix of public and private doctors and those with better self-reported health condition compared to last year were more likely to perceive a change in their own health seeking behaviours.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our study showed that despite a reasonably high awareness of the voucher scheme, its usage was low. The voucher alone was not enough to realize the government's policy of greater use of the private primary care services. Greater publicity and more variety of media promotion would increase awareness but the effectiveness of vouchers in changing older people's behaviour needs to be revisited. Designating vouchers for use of preventive services with evidence-based practice could be considered. In addition to the demand-side subsidies, improving transparency and comparability of private services against the public sector might be necessary.