Publications

    David Gathara, Mathias Zosi, George Serem, Jacinta Nzinga, Georgina AV Murphy, Debra Jackson, Sharon Brownie, and Mike English. 2020. “Developing metrics for nursing quality of care for low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review linked to stakeholder engagement.” Hum Resour Health, 18, 1, Pp. 34.Abstract
    BACKGROUND: The use of appropriate and relevant nurse-sensitive indicators provides an opportunity to demonstrate the unique contributions of nurses to patient outcomes. The aim of this work was to develop relevant metrics to assess the quality of nursing care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where they are scarce. MAIN BODY: We conducted a scoping review using EMBASE, CINAHL and MEDLINE databases of studies published in English focused on quality nursing care and with identified measurement methods. Indicators identified were reviewed by a diverse panel of nursing stakeholders in Kenya to develop a contextually appropriate set of nurse-sensitive indicators for Kenyan hospitals specific to the five major inpatient disciplines. We extracted data on study characteristics, nursing indicators reported, location and the tools used. A total of 23 articles quantifying the quality of nursing care services met the inclusion criteria. All studies identified were from high-income countries. Pooled together, 159 indicators were reported in the reviewed studies with 25 identified as the most commonly reported. Through the stakeholder consultative process, 52 nurse-sensitive indicators were recommended for Kenyan hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: Although nurse-sensitive indicators are increasingly used in high-income countries to improve quality of care, there is a wide heterogeneity in the way indicators are defined and interpreted. Whilst some indicators were regarded as useful by a Kenyan expert panel, contextual differences prompted them to recommend additional new indicators to improve the evaluations of nursing care provision in Kenyan hospitals and potentially similar LMIC settings. Taken forward through implementation, refinement and adaptation, the proposed indicators could be more standardised and may provide a common base to establish national or regional professional learning networks with the common goal of achieving high-quality care through quality improvement and learning.
    Mike English, David Gathara, Jacinta Nzinga, Pratap Kumar, Fred Were, Osman Warfa, Edna Tallam-Kimaiyo, Mary Nandili, Alfred Obengo, Nancy Abuya, Debra Jackson, Sharon Brownie, Sassy Molyneux, Caroline Olivia Holmes Jones, Georgina AV Murphy, and Jacob McKnight. 2020. “Lessons from a Health Policy and Systems Research programme exploring the quality and coverage of newborn care in Kenya.” BMJ Glob Health, 5, 1, Pp. e001937.Abstract
    There are global calls for research to support health system strengthening in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). To examine the nature and magnitude of gaps in access and quality of inpatient neonatal care provided to a largely poor urban population, we combined multiple epidemiological and health services methodologies. Conducting this work and generating findings was made possible through extensive formal and informal stakeholder engagement linked to flexibility in the research approach while keeping overall goals in mind. We learnt that 45% of sick newborns requiring hospital care in Nairobi probably do not access a suitable facility and that public hospitals provide 70% of care accessed with private sector care either poor quality or very expensive. Direct observations of care and ethnographic work show that critical nursing workforce shortages prevent delivery of high-quality care in high volume, low-cost facilities and likely threaten patient safety and nurses' well-being. In these challenging settings, routines and norms have evolved as collective coping strategies so health professionals maintain some sense of achievement in the face of impossible demands. Thus, the health system sustains a functional veneer that belies the stresses undermining quality, compassionate care. No one intervention will dramatically reduce neonatal mortality in this urban setting. In the short term, a substantial increase in the number of health workers, especially nurses, is required. This must be combined with longer term investment to address coverage gaps through redesign of services around functional tiers with improved information systems that support effective governance of public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
    Nancy Kagwanja, Dennis Waithaka, Jacinta Nzinga, Benjamin Tsofa, Mwanamvua Boga, Hassan Leli, Christine Mataza, Lucy Gilson, Sassy Molyneux, and Edwine Barasa. 2020. “Shocks, stress and everyday health system resilience: experiences from the Kenyan coast.” Health Policy Plan, 35, 5, Pp. 522-535.Abstract
    Health systems are faced with a wide variety of challenges. As complex adaptive systems, they respond differently and sometimes in unexpected ways to these challenges. We set out to examine the challenges experienced by the health system at a sub-national level in Kenya, a country that has recently undergone rapid devolution, using an 'everyday resilience' lens. We focussed on chronic stressors, rather than acute shocks in examining the responses and organizational capacities underpinning those responses, with a view to contributing to the understanding of health system resilience. We drew on learning and experiences gained through working with managers using a learning site approach over the years. We also collected in-depth qualitative data through informal observations, reflective meetings and in-depth interviews with middle-level managers (sub-county and hospital) and peripheral facility managers (n = 29). We analysed the data using a framework approach. Health managers reported a wide range of health system stressors related to resource scarcity, lack of clarity in roles and political interference, reduced autonomy and human resource management. The health managers adopted absorptive, adaptive and transformative strategies but with mixed effects on system functioning. Everyday resilience seemed to emerge from strategies enacted by managers drawing on a varying combination of organizational capacities depending on the stressor and context.
    Louise Fitzgerald, David Gathara, Jacob McKnight, Jacinta Nzinga, and Mike English. 2020. “Are health care assistants part of the long-term solution to the nursing workforce deficit in Kenya?” Hum Resour Health, 18, 1, Pp. 79.Abstract
    This commentary article addresses a critical issue facing Kenya and other Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC): how to remedy deficits in hospitals' nursing workforce. Would employing health care assistants (HCAs) provide a partial solution? This article first gives a brief introduction to the Kenyan context and then explores the development of workforce roles to support nurses in Europe to highlight the diversity of these roles. Our introduction pinpoints that pressures to maintain or restrict costs have led to a wide variety of formal and informal task shifting from nurses to some form of HCA in the EU with differences noted in issues of appropriate skill mix, training, accountability, and regulation of HCA. Next, we draw from a suite of recent studies in hospitals in Kenya which illustrate nursing practices in a highly pressurized context. The studies took place in neo-natal wards in Kenyan hospitals between 2015 and 2018 and in a system with no legal or regulatory basis for task shifting to HCAs. We proffer data on why and how nurses informally delegate tasks to others in the public sector and the decision-making processes of nurses and frame this evidence in the specific contextual conditions. In the conclusion, the paper aims to deepen the debates on developing human resources for health. We argue that despite the urgent pressures to address glaring workforce deficits in Kenya and other LMIC, caution needs to be exercised in implementing changes to nursing practices through the introduction of HCAs. The evidence from EU suggests that the rapid growth in the employment of HCA has created crucial issues which need addressing. These include clearly defining the scope of practice and developing the appropriate skill mix between nurses and HCAs to match the specific health system context. Moreover, we suggest efforts to develop and implement such roles should be carefully designed and rigorously evaluated to inform continuing policy development.
    Jacquie Narotso Oliwa, Jacinta Nzinga, Enos Masini, Michaël Boele van Hensbroek, Caroline Jones, Mike English, and Anja Van't Hoog. 2020. “Improving case detection of tuberculosis in hospitalised Kenyan children-employing the behaviour change wheel to aid intervention design and implementation.” Implement Sci, 15, 1, Pp. 102.Abstract
    BACKGROUND: The true burden of tuberculosis in children remains unknown, but approximately 65% go undetected each year. Guidelines for tuberculosis clinical decision-making are in place in Kenya, and the National Tuberculosis programme conducts several trainings on them yearly. By 2018, there were 183 GeneXpert® machines in Kenyan public hospitals. Despite these efforts, diagnostic tests are underused and there is observed under detection of tuberculosis in children. We describe the process of designing a contextually appropriate, theory-informed intervention to improve case detection of TB in children and implementation guided by the Behaviour Change Wheel. METHODS: We used an iterative process, going back and forth from quantitative and qualitative empiric data to reviewing literature, and applying the Behaviour Change Wheel guide. The key questions reflected on included (i) what is the problem we are trying to solve; (ii) what behaviours are we trying to change and in what way; (iii) what will it take to bring about desired change; (iv) what types of interventions are likely to bring about desired change; (v) what should be the specific intervention content and how should this be implemented? RESULTS: The following behaviour change intervention functions were identified as follows: (i) training: imparting practical skills; (ii) modelling: providing an example for people to aspire/imitate; (iii) persuasion: using communication to induce positive or negative feelings or stimulate action; (iv) environmental restructuring: changing the physical or social context; and (v) education: increasing knowledge or understanding. The process resulted in a multi-faceted intervention package composed of redesigning of child tuberculosis training; careful selection of champions; use of audit and feedback linked to group problem solving; and workflow restructuring with role specification. CONCLUSION: The intervention components were selected for their effectiveness (from literature), affordability, acceptability, and practicability and designed so that TB programme officers and hospital managers can be supported to implement them with relative ease, alongside their daily duties. This work contributes to the field of implementation science by utilising clear definitions and descriptions of underlying mechanisms of interventions that will guide others to do likewise in their settings for similar problems.
    Jacinta Nzinga, Gerry McGivern, and Mike English. 2019. “Hybrid clinical-managers in Kenyan hospitals.” J Health Organ Manag, 33, 2, Pp. 173-187.Abstract
    PURPOSE: The purpose of this paper is to explore the way "hybrid" clinical managers in Kenyan public hospitals interpret and enact hybrid clinical managerial roles in complex healthcare settings affected by professional, managerial and practical norms. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: The authors conducted a case study of two Kenyan district hospitals, involving repeated interviews with eight mid-level clinical managers complemented by interviews with 51 frontline workers and 6 senior managers, and 480 h of ethnographic field observations. The authors analysed and theorised data by combining inductive and deductive approaches in an iterative cycle. FINDINGS: Kenyan hybrid clinical managers were unprepared for managerial roles and mostly reluctant to do them. Therefore, hybrids' understandings and enactment of their roles was determined by strong professional norms, official hospital management norms (perceived to be dysfunctional and unsupportive) and local practical norms developed in response to this context. To navigate the tensions between managerial and clinical roles in the absence of management skills and effective structures, hybrids drew meaning from clinical roles, navigating tensions using prevailing routines and unofficial practical norms. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Understanding hybrids' interpretation and enactment of their roles is shaped by context and social norms and this is vital in determining the future development of health system's leadership and governance. Thus, healthcare reforms or efforts aimed towards increasing compliance of public servants have little influence on behaviour of key actors because they fail to address or acknowledge the norms affecting behaviours in practice. The authors suggest that a key skill for clinical managers in managers in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) is learning how to read, navigate and when opportune use local practical norms to improve service delivery when possible and to help them operate in these new roles. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: The authors believe that this paper is the first to empirically examine and discuss hybrid clinical healthcare in the LMICs context. The authors make a novel theoretical contribution by describing the important role of practical norms in LMIC healthcare contexts, alongside managerial and professional norms, and ways in which these provide hybrids with considerable agency which has not been previously discussed in the relevant literature.
    Jacinta Nzinga, Jacob McKnight, Joyline Jepkosgei, and Mike English. 2019. “Exploring the space for task shifting to support nursing on neonatal wards in Kenyan public hospitals.” Hum Resour Health, 17, 1, Pp. 18.Abstract
    BACKGROUND: Nursing practice is a key driver of quality care and can influence newborn health outcomes where nurses are the primary care givers to this highly dependent group. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, nursing work environments are characterized by heavy workloads, insufficient staffing and regular medical emergencies, which compromise the ability of nurses to provide quality care. Task shifting has been promoted as one strategy for making efficient use of human resources and addressing these issues. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: We aimed to understand the nature and practice of neonatal nursing in public hospitals in Nairobi so as to determine what prospect there might be for relieving pressure by shifting nurses' work to others. METHODS: This paper is based on an 18-month qualitative study of three newborn units of three public hospitals-all located in Nairobi county-using an ethnographic approach. We draw upon a mix of 32 interviews, over 250 h' observations, field notes and informal conversations. Data were collected from senior nursing experts in newborn nursing, neonatal nurse in-charges, neonatal nurses, nursing students and support staff. RESULTS: To cope with difficult work conditions characterized by resource challenges and competing priorities, nurses have developed a ritualized schedule and a form of 'subconscious triage'. Informal, organic task shifting was already taking place whereby particular nursing tasks were delegated to students, mothers and support staff, often without any structured supervision. Despite this practice, nurses were agnostic about formal institutionalization of task shifting due to concerns around professional boundaries and the practicality of integrating a new cadre into an already stressed health system. CONCLUSION: Our findings revealed a routine template of neonatal nursing work which nurses used to control unpredictability. We found that this model of nursing encouraged delegation of less technical tasks to subordinates, parents and other staff through the process of 'subconscious triage'. The rich insights we gained from this organic form of task shifting can inform more formal task-shifting projects as they seek to identify tasks most easily delegated, and how best to support and work with busy nurses.