Community health workers to improve uptake of maternal healthcare services: A cluster-randomized pragmatic trial in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
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.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Mother-to-child transmission of HIV remains an important public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. As HIV testing and linkage to PMTCT occurs in antenatal care (ANC), major challenges for any PMTCT option in developing countries, including Tanzania, are delays in the first ANC visit and a low overall number of visits. Community health workers (CHWs) have been effective in various settings in increasing the uptake of clinical services and improving treatment retention and adherence. At the beginning of this trial in January 2013, the World Health Organization recommended either of two medication regimens, Option A or B, for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). It is still largely unclear which option is more effective when implemented in a public healthcare system. This study aims to determine the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, acceptability, and feasibility of: (1) a community health worker (CWH) intervention and (2) PMTCT Option B in improving ANC and PMTCT outcomes.<h4>Methods/design</h4>This study is a cluster-randomized controlled health systems implementation trial with a two-by-two factorial design. All 60 administrative wards in the Kinondoni and Ilala districts in Dar es Salaam were first randomly allocated to either receiving the CHW intervention or not, and then to receiving either Option B or A. Under the standard of care, facility-based health workers follow up on patients who have missed scheduled appointments for PMTCT, first through a telephone call and then with a home visit. In the wards receiving the CHW intervention, the CHWs: (1) identify pregnant women through home visits and refer them to antenatal care; (2) provide education to pregnant women on antenatal care, PMTCT, birth, and postnatal care; (3) routinely follow up on all pregnant women to ascertain whether they have attended ANC; and (4) follow up on women who have missed ANC or PMTCT appointments.<h4>Trial registration</h4>ClinicalTrials.gov: EJF22802. Registration date: 14 May 2013.
Project description:BACKGROUND:By 2015, Malawi had not achieved Millennium Development Goal 4, reducing maternal mortality by about 35% from 675 to 439 deaths per 100,000 livebirths. Hypothesised reasons included low uptake of antenatal care (ANC), intrapartum care, and postnatal care. Involving community health workers (CHWs) in identification of pregnant women and linking them to perinatal services is a key strategy to reinforce uptake of perinatal care in Neno, Malawi. We evaluated changes in uptake after deployment of CHWs between March 2014 and June 2016. METHODS:A CHW intervention was implemented in Neno District, Malawi in a designated catchment area of about 3100 women of childbearing age. The pre-intervention period was March 2014 to February 2015, and the post-intervention period was March 2015 to June 2016. A 5-day maternal health training package was delivered to 211 paid and supervised CHWs. CHWs were deployed to identify pregnant women and escort them to perinatal care visits. A synthetic control method, in which a "counterfactual site" was created from six available control facilities in Neno District, was used to evaluate the intervention. Outcomes of interest included uptake of first-time ANC, ANC within the first trimester, four or more ANC visits, intrapartum care, and postnatal care follow-up. RESULTS:Women enrolled in ANC increased by 18% (95% Credible Interval (CrI): 8, 29%) from an average of 83 to 98 per month, the proportion of pregnant women starting ANC in the first trimester increased by 200% (95% CrI: 162, 234%) from 10 to 29% per month, the proportion of women completing four or more ANC visits increased by 37% (95% CrI: 31, 43%) from 28 to 39%, and monthly utilisation of intrapartum care increased by 20% (95% CrI: 13, 28%) from 85 to 102 women per month. There was little evidence that the CHW intervention changed utilisation of postnatal care (-?37, 95% CrI: -?224, 170%). CONCLUSIONS:In a rural district in Malawi, uptake of ANC and intrapartum care increased considerably following an intervention using CHWs to identify pregnant women and link them to care.
Project description:Maternal antenatal depression has long-term consequences for children's health. We examined if home visits by community health workers (CHW) can improve growth outcomes for children of mothers who are antenatally depressed.A cluster randomized controlled trial of all pregnant, neighbourhood women in Cape Town, South Africa. Almost all pregnant women (98 %, N?=?1238) were recruited and assessed during pregnancy, two weeks post-birth (92 %) and 6 months post-birth (88 %). Pregnant women were randomized to either: 1) Standard Care (SC), which provided routine antenatal care; or 2) an intervention, The Philani Intervention Program (PIP), which included SC and home visits by CHW trained as generalists (M?=?11 visits). Child standardized weight, length, and weight by length over 6 months based on maternal antenatal depression and intervention condition.Depressed mood was similar across the PIP and SC conditions both antenatally (16.5 % rate) and at 6 months (16.7 %). The infants of depressed pregnant women in the PIP group were similar in height (height-for-age Z scores) to the children of non-depressed mothers in both the PIP and the SC conditions, but significantly taller at 6 months of age than the infants of pregnant depressed mothers in the SC condition. The intervention did not moderate children's growth. Depressed SC mothers tended to have infants less than two standard deviations in height on the World Health Organization's norms at two weeks post-birth compared to infants of depressed PIP mothers and non-depressed mothers in both conditions.A generalist, CHW-delivered home visiting program improved infant growth, even when mothers' depression was not reduced. Focusing on maternal caretaking of infants, even when mothers are depressed, is critical in future interventions.ClinicalTrials.gov registration # NCT00996528 . October 15, 2009.
Project description:BACKGROUND:This study aims to explore the potential association between unintended pregnancy and maternal health complications. Secondarily, we test whether antenatal care (ANC) and community health worker (CHW) visits moderate the observed association between unintended pregnancy and maternal health complications. METHODS:Cross sectional data were collected using a multistage sampling design to identify women who had a live birth in the last 12?months across 25 highest risk districts of Uttar Pradesh (N?=?3659). Participants were surveyed on demographics, unintendedness of last pregnancy, receipt of ANC clinical visits and community outreach during pregnancy, and maternal complications. Regression models described the relations between unintended pregnancy and maternal complications. To determine if receipt of ANC and CHW visits in pregnancy moderated associations between unintended pregnancy and maternal complications, we used the Mantel-Haenzel risk estimation test and stratified logistic models testing interactions of unintended pregnancy and receipt of health services to predict maternal complications. RESULTS:Around one-fifth of the women (16.9%) reported that their previous pregnancy was unintended. Logistic regression analyses revealed that unintended pregnancy was significantly associated with maternal complications- pre-eclampsia (AOR:2.06; 95% CI:1.57-2.72), postpartum hemorrhage (AOR:1.46; 95% CI: 1.01-2.13) and postpartum pre-eclampsia (AOR:2.34; 95% CI:1.47-3.72). Results from the Mantel Haenszel test indicated that both ANC and CHW home visit in pregnancy significantly affect the association between unintended pregnancy and postpartum hemorrhage (p?<?0.001). CONCLUSION:Unintended pregnancy is associated with increased risk for maternal health complications, but provision of ANC clinical visits and CHW home visits in pregnancy may be able to reduce potential effects of unintended pregnancy on maternal health.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of three doses of quality-assured sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for intermittent preventive treatment of malaria during pregnancy (IPTp), in moderate to high malaria transmission areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, coverage of IPTp lags behind coverage of antenatal care (ANC) visits; in Nigeria, 57% of women attended four or more ANC visits, whereas only 17% received the recommended three or more doses of IPTp. The innovative program aimed to close this gap by providing counseling on the benefits of comprehensive ANC, referral to ANC and community distribution of IPTp (C-IPTp), complementing IPTp at ANC. The study aimed to examine whether CHW referral to ANC improved the likelihood of receiving three or more doses of IPTp.<h4>Methods</h4>The data for this study were extracted from the maternity record books of 1437 pregnant women seen at 25 public health facilities in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. The outcome of interest was defined as the receipt of three or more doses of IPTp (IPTp3) and the independent variable was referral to ANC by a community health worker for any visit. Descriptive statistics were reported and the results from the multi-level regressions are reported as adjusted odds and prevalence ratios with corresponding 95% confidence intervals.<h4>Results</h4>Of the 936 women included in the analysis, 24.47% received the recommended three or more IPTp doses and 61.32% were referred by a community health worker (CHW) for at least one ANC visit. There was no difference in the mean number of ANC visits between women who received C-IPTp and those who received IPTp exclusively at a facility (2.40 vs 2.52; p = 0.374). There were no maternal characteristics associated with CHW referral. Women who were referred by a CHW had 60% greater odds (95% CI, 1.08-2.38) of receiving IPTp3 than those who were never referred.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The results indicate that CHW referrals conducted within a C-IPTp program are associated with higher IPTp uptake but not fewer ANC visits and that CHWs applied the referral process equally. This strengthens the evidence base for C-IPTp scale-up, which could have a large impact in sub-Saharan Africa in mitigating existing health systems issues.
Project description:Almost all pregnant women (98 %) in 24 Cape Town neighborhoods were randomized by neighborhood to (1) the standard care (SC) condition (n?=?12 neighborhoods; n?=?594 pregnant women) or (2) the Philani Intervention Program (PIP) in which home visits by Community Health Workers (CHW) were conducted (n?=?12 neighborhoods; n?=?644 pregnant women). At 36 months post-birth (84.6 % follow-up), PIP mothers were significantly less depressed compared to the SC mothers. Children in PIP were significantly less likely to be stunted (24.3 vs 18.1 %, p?=?0.013), to have better vocabularies, and were less likely to be hospitalized than children in the SC condition. These data suggest home visits may need to continue for several years post-birth. Sustainable, scalable perinatal intervention models are needed in LMIC.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria continues to cause over 10,000 maternal deaths and 75,000 to 200,000 infant deaths. Successful control of malaria in pregnancy could save lives of mothers and babies and is an essential part of antenatal care in endemic areas. The primary objective is to determine the protective efficacy of community-scheduled screening and treatment (CSST) using community health workers (CHW) against the primary outcome of prevalence of placental malaria. The secondary objectives are to determine the protective efficacy of CSST on maternal anaemia, maternal peripheral infection, low birth weight, selection of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) resistance markers, and on antenatal clinic (ANC) attendance and coverage of intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy (IPTp-SP). METHODS/DESIGN:This is a multi-centre cluster-randomised controlled trial involving three countries with varying malaria endemicity; low (The Gambia) versus high transmission (Burkina Faso and Benin), and varying degrees of SP resistance (high in Benin and moderate in Gambia and Burkina Faso). CHW and their related catchment population who are randomised into the intervention arm will receive specific training on community-based case management of malaria in pregnancy. All women in both study arms will be enrolled at their first ANC visits in their second trimester where they will receive their first dose of IPTp-SP. Thereafter, CHW in the intervention arm will perform scheduled monthly screening and treatment in the womens homes. At time of delivery, a placental biopsy will be collected from all women to determine placental malaria. At each contact point, filter paper and blood slides will be collected for detection of malaria infection and SP resistance markers. DISCUSSION:To reach successful global malaria control, there is an urgent need to access those at greatest risk of malaria infection. The project is designed to develop a low-cost intervention in pregnant women which will have an immediate impact on the malaria burden in resource-limited countries. This will be done by adding to the standard IPTp-SP delivered through the health facilities: an "extension" strategy to the communities in rural areas thus bringing health services closer to where women live. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN37259296 (5 July 2013), and clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01941264 (10 September 2013).
Project description:BACKGROUND:Antenatal care (ANC), facility delivery and postnatal care (PNC) are proven to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity in high-burden settings. However, few pregnant rural women use these services sufficiently. This study aims to assess the impact, cost-effectiveness and scalability of conditional cash transfers to promote increased contact between pregnant women or women who have recently given birth and the formal healthcare system in Kenya. METHODS:The intervention tested is a conditional cash transfer to women for ANC health visits, a facility birth and PNC visits until their newborn baby reaches 1?year of age. The study is a cluster randomized controlled trial in Siaya County, Kenya. The trial clusters are 48 randomly selected public primary health facilities, 24 of which are in the intervention arm of the study and 24 in the control arm. The unit of randomization is the health facility. A target sample of 7200 study participants comprises pregnant women identified and recruited at their first ANC visit over a 12-month recruitment period and their subsequent newborns. All pregnant women attending one of the selected trial facilities for their first ANC visit during the recruitment period are eligible for the trial and invited to participate. Enrolled mothers are followed up at all health visits during their pregnancy, at facility delivery and for a number of visits after delivery. They are also contacted at three additional time points after enrolling in the study: 5-10days after enrolment, 6 months after the expected delivery date and 12 27 months after birth. If they have not delivered in a facility, there is an additional follow-up 2 wees after the expected due date. The impact of the conditional cash transfers on maternal healthcare services and utilization will be measured by the trial's primary outcomes: the proportion of all eligible ANC visits made during pregnancy, delivery at a health facility, the proportion of all eligible PNC visits attended, the proportion of referrals attended during the pregnancy and the postnatal period, and the proportion of eligible child immunization appointments attended. Secondary outcomes include; health screening and infection control, live birth, maternal and child survival 48?h after delivery, exclusive breastfeeding, post-partum contraceptive use and maternal and newborn morbidity. Data sources for the measurement of outcomes include routine health records, an electronic card-reader system and telephone surveys and focus group discussions. A full economic evaluation will be conducted to assess the cost of delivery and cost effectiveness of the intervention and the benefit incidence and equity impact of trial activities and outcomes. DISCUSSION:This trial will contribute to evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of conditional cash transfers in facilitating health visits and promoting maternal and child health in rural Kenya and in other comparable contexts. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03021070 . Registered on 13 January 2017.
Project description:Background Antenatal care (ANC) and delivery by skilled providers have been well recognized as effective strategies to prevent maternal and neonatal mortality. ANC and delivery services at health facilities, however, have been underutilized in Kenya. One potential strategy to increase the demand for ANC services is to provide health interventions as incentives for pregnant women. In 2013, an integrated ANC program was implemented in western Kenya to promote ANC visits by addressing both supply- and demand-side factors. Supply-side interventions included nurse training and supplies for obstetric emergencies and neonatal resuscitation. Demand-side interventions included SMS text messages with appointment reminders and educational contents, group education sessions, and vouchers to purchase health products. Methods To explore pregnant mothers’ experiences with the intervention, ANC visits, and delivery, we conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) at pre- and post-intervention. A total of 19 FGDs were held with pregnant mothers, nurses, and community health workers (CHWs) during the two assessment periods. We performed thematic analyses to highlight study participants’ perceptions and experiences. Results FGD data revealed that pregnant women perceived the risks of home-based delivery, recognized the benefits of facility-based delivery, and were motivated by the incentives to seek care despite barriers to care that included poverty, lack of transport, and poor treatment by nurses. Nurses also perceived the value of incentives to attract women to care but described obstacles to providing health care such as overwork, low pay, inadequate supplies and equipment, and insufficient staff. CHWs identified the utility and limitations of text messages for health education. Conclusions Future interventions should ensure that adequate workforce, training, and supplies are in place to respond to increased demand for maternal and child health services stimulated by incentive programs.
Project description:BACKGROUND: This study assessed women and providers' satisfaction with a new evidence-based antenatal care (ANC) model within the WHO randomized trial conducted in four developing countries. The WHO study was a randomized controlled trial that compared a new ANC model with the standard type offered in each country. The new model of ANC emphasized actions known to be effective in improving maternal or neonatal health, excluded other interventions that have not proved to be beneficial, and improved the information component, especially alerting pregnant women to potential health problems and instructing them on appropriate responses. These activities were distributed within four antenatal care visits for women that did not need any further assessment. METHODS: Satisfaction was measured through a standardized questionnaire administered to a random sample of 1,600 pregnant women and another to all antenatal care providers. RESULTS: Most women in both arms expressed satisfaction with ANC. More women in the intervention arm were satisfied with information on labor, delivery, family planning, pregnancy complications and emergency procedures. More providers in the experimental clinics were worried about visit spacing, but more satisfied with the time spent and information provided. CONCLUSIONS: Women and providers accepted the new ANC model generally. The safety of fewer visits for women without complications with longer spacing would have to be reinforced, if such a model is to be introduced into routine practice.