How does the effectiveness of strategies to improve healthcare provider practices in low-income and middle-income countries change after implementation? Secondary analysis of a systematic review
BACKGROUND: A recent systematic review evaluated the effectiveness of strategies to improve healthcare provider (HCP) performance in low-income and middle-income countries. The review identified strategies with varying effects, including in-service training, supervision and group problem-solving. However, whether their effectiveness changed over time remained unclear. In particular, understanding whether effects decay over time is crucial to improve sustainability.
METHODS: We conducted a secondary analysis of data from the aforementioned review to explore associations between time and effectiveness. We calculated effect sizes (defined as percentage-point (%-point) changes) for HCP practice outcomes (eg, percentage of patients correctly treated) at each follow-up time point after the strategy was implemented. We estimated the association between time and effectiveness using random-intercept linear regression models with time-specific effect sizes clustered within studies and adjusted for baseline performance.
RESULTS: The primary analysis included 37 studies, and a sensitivity analysis included 77 additional studies. For training, every additional month of follow-up was associated with a 0.19 %-point decrease in effectiveness (95% CI: -0.36 to -0.03). For training combined with supervision, every additional month was associated with a 0.40 %-point decrease in effectiveness (95% CI: -0.68 to -0.12). Time trend results for supervision were inconclusive. For group problem-solving alone, time was positively associated with effectiveness, with a 0.50 %-point increase in effect per month (95% CI: 0.37 to 0.64). Group problem-solving combined with training was associated with large improvements, and its effect was not associated with time.
CONCLUSIONS: Time trends in the effectiveness of different strategies to improve HCP practices vary among strategies. Programmes relying solely on in-service training might need periodical refresher training or, better still, consider combining training with group problem-solving. Although more high-quality research is needed, these results, which are important for decision-makers as they choose which strategies to use, underscore the utility of studies with multiple post-implementation measurements so sustainability of the impact on HCP practices can be assessed.
Arsenault, C., Rowe, S. Y., Ross-Degnan, D., Peters, D. H., Roder-DeWan, S., Kruk, M. E., & Rowe, A. K. (2021). How does the effectiveness of strategies to improve healthcare provider practices in low-income and middle-income countries change after implementation? Secondary analysis of a systematic review. BMJ Qual Saf. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2020-011717