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Journal ArticleDOI

Health workforce skill mix and task shifting in low income countries: a review of recent evidence

11 Jan 2011-Human Resources for Health (BioMed Central)-Vol. 9, Iss: 1, pp 1-11

TL;DR: Task shifting is a promising policy option to increase the productive efficiency of the delivery of health care services, increasing the number of services provided at a given quality and cost.

AbstractHealth workforce needs-based shortages and skill mix imbalances are significant health workforce challenges. Task shifting, defined as delegating tasks to existing or new cadres with either less training or narrowly tailored training, is a potential strategy to address these challenges. This study uses an economics perspective to review the skill mix literature to determine its strength of the evidence, identify gaps in the evidence, and to propose a research agenda. Studies primarily from low-income countries published between 2006 and September 2010 were found using Google Scholar and PubMed. Keywords included terms such as skill mix, task shifting, assistant medical officer, assistant clinical officer, assistant nurse, assistant pharmacist, and community health worker. Thirty-one studies were selected to analyze, based on the strength of evidence. First, the studies provide substantial evidence that task shifting is an important policy option to help alleviate workforce shortages and skill mix imbalances. For example, in Mozambique, surgically trained assistant medical officers, who were the key providers in district hospitals, produced similar patient outcomes at a significantly lower cost as compared to physician obstetricians and gynaecologists. Second, although task shifting is promising, it can present its own challenges. For example, a study analyzing task shifting in HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa noted quality and safety concerns, professional and institutional resistance, and the need to sustain motivation and performance. Third, most task shifting studies compare the results of the new cadre with the traditional cadre. Studies also need to compare the new cadre's results to the results from the care that would have been provided--if any care at all--had task shifting not occurred. Task shifting is a promising policy option to increase the productive efficiency of the delivery of health care services, increasing the number of services provided at a given quality and cost. Future studies should examine the development of new professional cadres that evolve with technology and country-specific labour markets. To strengthen the evidence, skill mix changes need to be evaluated with a rigorous research design to estimate the effect on patient health outcomes, quality of care, and costs.

Topics: Skill mix (66%), Workforce planning (58%), Health care (57%), Clinical officer (57%), Health services research (56%)

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The pace of reform should be moderated to allow service providers to develop absorptive capacity, and independent, outcome-based monitoring and evaluation by a third-party are essential for mid-course correction of the plans and to make officials and providers accountable.
Abstract: China's 3 year, CN¥850 billion (US$125 billion) reform plan, launched in 2009, marked the first phase towards achieving comprehensive universal health coverage by 2020. The government's undertaking of systemic reform and its affirmation of its role in financing health care together with priorities for prevention, primary care, and redistribution of finance and human resources to poor regions are positive developments. Accomplishing nearly universal insurance coverage in such a short time is commendable. However, transformation of money and insurance coverage into cost-effective services is difficult when delivery of health care is hindered by waste, inefficiencies, poor quality of services, and scarcity and maldistribution of the qualified workforce. China must reform its incentive structures for providers, improve governance of public hospitals, and institute a stronger regulatory system, but these changes have been slowed by opposition from stakeholders and lack of implementation capacity. The pace of reform should be moderated to allow service providers to develop absorptive capacity. Independent, outcome-based monitoring and evaluation by a third-party are essential for mid-course correction of the plans and to make officials and providers accountable.

873 citations


Journal Article
Abstract: A challenge faced by many countries is to provide adequate human resources for delivery of essential mental health interventions. The overwhelming worldwide shortage of human resources for mental health, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, is well established. Here, we review the current state of human resources for mental health, needs, and strategies for action. At present, human resources for mental health in countries of low and middle income show a serious shortfall that is likely to grow unless eff ective steps are taken. Evidence suggests that mental health care can be delivered eff ectively in primary health-care settings, through community-based programmes and task-shifting approaches. Non-specialist health professionals, lay workers, aff ected individuals, and caregivers with brief training and appropriate supervision by mental health specialists are able to detect, diagnose, treat, and monitor individuals with mental disorders and reduce caregiver burden. We also discuss scale-up costs, human resources management, and leadership for mental health, particularly within the context of low-income and middle-income countries.

555 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: A challenge faced by many countries is to provide adequate human resources for delivery of essential mental health interventions. The overwhelming worldwide shortage of human resources for mental health, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries, is well established. Here, we review the current state of human resources for mental health, needs, and strategies for action. At present, human resources for mental health in countries of low and middle income show a serious shortfall that is likely to grow unless effective steps are taken. Evidence suggests that mental health care can be delivered effectively in primary health-care settings, through community-based programmes and task-shifting approaches. Non-specialist health professionals, lay workers, affected individuals, and caregivers with brief training and appropriate supervision by mental health specialists are able to detect, diagnose, treat, and monitor individuals with mental disorders and reduce caregiver burden. We also discuss scale-up costs, human resources management, and leadership for mental health, particularly within the context of low-income and middle-income countries.

538 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: These experiences show that improvements in health can still be achieved in countries with relatively few resources, though strategic investment is necessary to address new challenges such as complex chronic diseases and growing population expectations.
Abstract: In 1985, the Rockefeller Foundation published Good health at low cost to discuss why some countries or regions achieve better health and social outcomes than do others at a similar level of income and to show the role of political will and socially progressive policies. 25 years on, the Good Health at Low Cost project revisited these places but looked anew at Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, and the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which have all either achieved substantial improvements in health or access to services or implemented innovative health policies relative to their neighbours. A series of comparative case studies (2009-11) looked at how and why each region accomplished these changes. Attributes of success included good governance and political commitment, effective bureaucracies that preserve institutional memory and can learn from experience, and the ability to innovate and adapt to resource limitations. Furthermore, the capacity to respond to population needs and build resilience into health systems in the face of political unrest, economic crises, and natural disasters was important. Transport infrastructure, female empowerment, and education also played a part. Health systems are complex and no simple recipe exists for success. Yet in the countries and regions studied, progress has been assisted by institutional stability, with continuity of reforms despite political and economic turmoil, learning lessons from experience, seizing windows of opportunity, and ensuring sensitivity to context. These experiences show that improvements in health can still be achieved in countries with relatively few resources, though strategic investment is necessary to address new challenges such as complex chronic diseases and growing population expectations.

239 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A country-led, data-driven process to sharpen national health plans, seize opportunities to address the quality gap for care at birth and care of small and ill newborn babies, and systematically scale up care to reach every mother and newborn baby, particularly the poorest is proposed.
Abstract: Universal coverage of essential interventions would reduce neonatal deaths by an estimated 71%, benefit women and children after the first month, and reduce stillbirths. However, the packages with the greatest effect (care around birth, care of small and ill newborn babies), have low and inequitable coverage and are the most sensitive markers of health system function. In eight of the 13 countries with the most neonatal deaths (55% worldwide), we undertook a systematic assessment of bottlenecks to essential maternal and newborn health care, involving more than 600 experts. Of 2465 bottlenecks identified, common constraints were found in all high-burden countries, notably regarding the health workforce, financing, and service delivery. However, bottlenecks for specific interventions might differ across similar health systems. For example, the implementation of kangaroo mother care was noted as challenging in the four Asian country workshops, but was regarded as a feasible aspect of preterm care by respondents in the four African countries. If all high-burden countries achieved the neonatal mortality rates of their region's fastest progressing countries, then the mortality goal of ten or fewer per 1000 livebirths by 2035 recommended in this Series and the Every Newborn Action Plan would be exceeded. We therefore examined fast progressing countries to identify strategies to reduce neonatal mortality. We identified several key factors: (1) workforce planning to increase numbers and upgrade specific skills for care at birth and of small and ill newborn babies, task sharing, incentives for rural health workers; (2) financial protection measures, such as expansion of health insurance, conditional cash transfers, and performance-based financing; and (3) dynamic leadership including innovation and community empowerment. Adapting from the 2005 Lancet Series on neonatal survival and drawing on this Every Newborn Series, we propose a country-led, data-driven process to sharpen national health plans, seize opportunities to address the quality gap for care at birth and care of small and ill newborn babies, and systematically scale up care to reach every mother and newborn baby, particularly the poorest.

225 citations


References
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Book
01 Oct 1984
Abstract: Buku ini menyediakan sebuah portal lengkap untuk dunia penelitian studi kasus, buku ini menawarkan cakupan yang luas dari desain dan penggunaan metode studi kasus sebagai alat penelitian yang valid. Dalam buku ini mencakup lebih dari 50 studi kasus, memberikan perhatian untuk analisis kuantitatif, membahas lebih lengkap penggunaan desain metode campuran penelitian, dan termasuk wawasan metodologi baru.

77,868 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A systematic review and meta-analysis of placebo-controlled studies examined the efficacy and tolerability of different types of antidepressants, the combination of an antidepressant and an antipsychotic, antipsychotics alone, or natural products in adults with somatoform disorders in adults to improve optimal treatment decisions.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Somatoform disorders are characterised by chronic, medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS). Although different medications are part of treatment routines for people with somatoform disorders in clinics and private practices, there exists no systematic review or meta-analysis on the efficacy and tolerability of these medications. We aimed to synthesise to improve optimal treatment decisions.OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of pharmacological interventions for somatoform disorders (specifically somatisation disorder, undifferentiated somatoform disorder, somatoform autonomic dysfunction, and pain disorder) in adults.SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Review Group's Specialised Register (CCDANCTR) (to 17 January 2014). This register includes relevant randomised controlled trials (RCTs) from The Cochrane Library (all years), MEDLINE (1950 to date), EMBASE (1974 to date), and PsycINFO (1967 to date). To identify ongoing trials, we searched ClinicalTrials.gov, Current Controlled Trials metaRegister, the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and the Chinese Clinical Trials Registry. For grey literature, we searched ProQuest Dissertation {\&} Theses Database, OpenGrey, and BIOSIS Previews. We handsearched conference proceedings and reference lists of potentially relevant papers and systematic reviews and contacted experts in the field.SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected RCTs or cluster RCTs of pharmacological interventions versus placebo, treatment as usual, another medication, or a combination of different medications for somatoform disorders in adults. We included people fulfilling standardised diagnostic criteria for somatisation disorder, undifferentiated somatoform disorder, somatoform autonomic dysfunction, or somatoform pain disorder.DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: One review author and one research assistant independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Primary outcomes included the severity of MUPS on a continuous measure, and acceptability of treatment.MAIN RESULTS: We included 26 RCTs (33 reports), with 2159 participants, in the review. They examined the efficacy of different types of antidepressants, the combination of an antidepressant and an antipsychotic, antipsychotics alone, or natural products (NPs). The duration of the studies ranged between two and 12 weeks.One meta-analysis of placebo-controlled studies showed no clear evidence of a significant difference between tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and placebo for the outcome severity of MUPS (SMD -0.13; 95{\%} CI -0.39 to 0.13; 2 studies, 239 participants; I(2) = 2{\%}; low-quality evidence). For new-generation antidepressants (NGAs), there was very low-quality evidence showing they were effective in reducing the severity of MUPS (SMD -0.91; 95{\%} CI -1.36 to -0.46; 3 studies, 243 participants; I(2) = 63{\%}). For NPs there was low-quality evidence that they were effective in reducing the severity of MUPS (SMD -0.74; 95{\%} CI -0.97 to -0.51; 2 studies, 322 participants; I(2) = 0{\%}).One meta-analysis showed no clear evidence of a difference between TCAs and NGAs for severity of MUPS (SMD -0.16; 95{\%} CI -0.55 to 0.23; 3 studies, 177 participants; I(2) = 42{\%}; low-quality evidence). There was also no difference between NGAs and other NGAs for severity of MUPS (SMD -0.16; 95{\%} CI -0.45 to 0.14; 4 studies, 182 participants; I(2) = 0{\%}).Finally, one meta-analysis comparing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) with a combination of SSRIs and antipsychotics showed low-quality evidence in favour of combined treatment for severity of MUPS (SMD 0.77; 95{\%} CI 0.32 to 1.22; 2 studies, 107 participants; I(2) = 23{\%}).Differences regarding the acceptability of the treatment (rate of all-cause drop-outs) were neither found between NGAs and placebo (RR 1.01, 95{\%} CI 0.64 to 1.61; 2 studies, 163 participants; I(2) = 0{\%}; low-quality evidence) or NPs and placebo (RR 0.85, 95{\%} CI 0.40 to 1.78; 3 studies, 506 participants; I(2) = 0{\%}; low-quality evidence); nor between TCAs and other medication (RR 1.48, 95{\%} CI 0.59 to 3.72; 8 studies, 556 participants; I(2) =14{\%}; low-quality evidence); nor between antidepressants and the combination of an antidepressant and an antipsychotic (RR 0.80, 95{\%} CI 0.25 to 2.52; 2 studies, 118 participants; I(2) = 0{\%}; low-quality evidence). Percental attrition rates due to adverse effects were high in all antidepressant treatments (0{\%} to 32{\%}), but low for NPs (0{\%} to 1.7{\%}).The risk of bias was high in many domains across studies. Seventeen trials (65.4{\%}) gave no information about random sequence generation and only two (7.7{\%}) provided information about allocation concealment. Eighteen studies (69.2{\%}) revealed a high or unclear risk in blinding participants and study personnel; 23 studies had high risk of bias relating to blinding assessors. For the comparison NGA versus placebo, there was relatively high imprecision and heterogeneity due to one outlier study. Although we identified 26 studies, each comparison only contained a few studies and small numbers of participants so the results were imprecise.AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The current review found very low-quality evidence for NGAs and low-quality evidence for NPs being effective in treating somatoform symptoms in adults when compared with placebo. There was some evidence that different classes of antidepressants did not differ in efficacy; however, this was limited and of low to very low quality. These results had serious shortcomings such as the high risk of bias, strong heterogeneity in the data, and small sample sizes. Furthermore, the significant effects of antidepressant treatment have to be balanced against the relatively high rates of adverse effects. Adverse effects produced by medication can have amplifying effects on symptom perceptions, particularly in people focusing on somatic symptoms without medical causes. We can only draw conclusions about short-term efficacy of the pharmacological interventions because no trial included follow-up assessments. For each of the comparisons where there were available data on acceptability rates (NGAs versus placebo, NPs versus placebo, TCAs versus other medication, and antidepressants versus a combination of an antidepressant and an antipsychotic), no clear differences between the intervention and comparator were found.Future high-quality research should be carried out to determine the effectiveness of medications other than antidepressants, to compare antidepressants more thoroughly, and to follow-up participants over longer periods (the longest follow up was just 12 weeks). Another idea for future research would be to include other outcomes such as functional impairment or dysfunctional behaviours and cognitions as well as the classical outcomes such as symptom severity, depression, or anxiety.

11,436 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
Sinead Brophy1, Helen Davies1, Sopna Mannan1, Huw Brunt, Rhys Williams1 
TL;DR: Two studies show SU leading to earlier insulin dependence and a meta-analysis of four studies with considerable heterogeneity showed poorer metabolic control if SU is prescribed for patients with LADA compared to insulin.
Abstract: Background Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is a slowly developing type 1 diabetes. Objectives To compare interventions used for LADA. Search methods Studies were obtained from searches of electronic databases, supplemented by handsearches, conference proceedings and consultation with experts. Date of last search was December 2010. Selection criteria Randomised controlled trials (RCT) and controlled clinical trials (CCT) evaluating interventions for LADA or type 2 diabetes with antibodies were included. Data collection and analysis Two authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Studies were summarised using meta-analysis or descriptive methods. Main results Searches identified 13,306 citations. Fifteen publications (ten studies) were included, involving 1019 participants who were followed between three months to 10 years (1060 randomised). All studies had a high risk of bias. Sulphonylurea (SU) with insulin did not improve metabolic control significantly more than insulin alone at three months (one study, n = 15) and at 12 months (one study, n = 14) of treatment and follow-up. SU (with or without metformin) gave poorer metabolic control compared to insulin alone (mean difference in glycosylated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) from baseline to end of study, for insulin compared to oral therapy: -1.3% (95% confidence interval (CI) -2.4 to -0.1; P = 0.03, 160 participants, four studies, follow-up/duration of therapy: 12, 30, 36 and 60 months; however, heterogeneity was considerable). In addition, there was evidence that SU caused earlier insulin dependence (proportion requiring insulin at two years was 30% in the SU group compared to 5% in conventional care group (P < 0.001); patients classified as insulin dependent was 64% (SU group) and 12.5% (insulin group, P = 0.007). No intervention influenced fasting C-peptide, but insulin maintained stimulated C-peptide better than SU (one study, mean difference 7.7 ng/ml (95% CI 2.9 to 12.5)). In a five year follow-up of GAD65 (glutamic acid decarboxylase formulated with aluminium hydroxide), improvements in fasting and stimulated C-peptide levels (20 μg group) were maintained after five years. Short term (three months) follow-up in one study (n = 74) using Chinese remedies did not demonstrate a significant difference in improving fasting C-peptide levels compared to insulin alone (0.07 µg/L (95% CI -0.05 to 0.19). One study using vitamin D with insulin showed steady fasting C-peptide levels in the vitamin D group but declining fasting C-peptide levels (368 to 179 pmol/L, P = 0.006) in the insulin alone group at 12 months follow-up. Comparing studies was difficult as there was a great deal of heterogeneity in the studies and in their selection criteria. There was no information regarding health-related quality of life, complications of diabetes, cost or health service utilisation, mortality and limited evidence on adverse events (studies on oral agents or insulin reported no adverse events in terms of severe hypoglycaemic episodes). Authors' conclusions Two studies show SU leading to earlier insulin dependence and a meta-analysis of four studies with considerable heterogeneity showed poorer metabolic control if SU is prescribed for patients with LADA compared to insulin. One study showed that vitamin D with insulin may protect pancreatic beta cells in LADA. Novel treatments such as GAD65 in certain doses (20 μg) have been suggested to maintain fasting and stimulated C-peptide levels. However, there is no significant evidence for or against other lines of treatment of LADA.

6,878 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Despite uncertainties about mortality and burden of disease estimates, the findings suggest that substantial gains in health have been achieved in most populations, countered by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa and setbacks in adult mortality in countries of the former Soviet Union.
Abstract: Summary Background Our aim was to calculate the global burden of disease and risk factors for 2001, to examine regional trends from 1990 to 2001, and to provide a starting point for the analysis of the Disease Control Priorities Project (DCPP). Methods We calculated mortality, incidence, prevalence, and disability adjusted life years (DALYs) for 136 diseases and injuries, for seven income/geographic country groups. To assess trends, we re-estimated all-cause mortality for 1990 with the same methods as for 2001. We estimated mortality and disease burden attributable to 19 risk factors. Findings About 56 million people died in 2001. Of these, 10·6 million were children, 99% of whom lived in low-and-middle-income countries. More than half of child deaths in 2001 were attributable to acute respiratory infections, measles, diarrhoea, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The ten leading diseases for global disease burden were perinatal conditions, lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoeal diseases, unipolar major depression, malaria, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and tuberculosis. There was a 20% reduction in global disease burden per head due to communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional conditions between 1990 and 2001. Almost half the disease burden in low-and-middle-income countries is now from non-communicable diseases (disease burden per head in Sub-Saharan Africa and the low-and-middle-income countries of Europe and Central Asia increased between 1990 and 2001). Undernutrition remains the leading risk factor for health loss. An estimated 45% of global mortality and 36% of global disease burden are attributable to the joint hazardous effects of the 19 risk factors studied. Uncertainty in all-cause mortality estimates ranged from around 1% in high-income countries to 15–20% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Uncertainty was larger for mortality from specific diseases, and for incidence and prevalence of non-fatal outcomes. Interpretation Despite uncertainties about mortality and burden of disease estimates, our findings suggest that substantial gains in health have been achieved in most populations, countered by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa and setbacks in adult mortality in countries of the former Soviet Union. Our results on major disease, injury, and risk factor causes of loss of health, together with information on the cost-effectiveness of interventions, can assist in accelerating progress towards better health and reducing the persistent differentials in health between poor and rich countries.

4,922 citations


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