• Gaps and strategies in developing health research capacity: Experience from the Nigeria Implementation Science Alliance

      Ezeanolue, E.E.; Menson, W.N.A.; Patel, D. (BioMed Central Ltd., 2018)
      Background: Despite being disproportionately burdened by preventable diseases than more advanced countries, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) continue to trail behind other parts of the world in the number, quality and impact of scholarly activities by their health researchers. Our strategy at the Nigerian Implementation Science Alliance (NISA) is to utilise innovative platforms that catalyse collaboration, enhance communication between different stakeholders, and promote the uptake of evidence-based interventions in improving healthcare delivery. This article reports on findings from a structured group exercise conducted at the 2016 NISA Conference to identify (1) gaps in developing research capacity and (2) potential strategies to address these gaps. Methods: A 1-hour structured group exercise was conducted with 15 groups of 2-9 individuals (n = 94) to brainstorm gaps for implementation, strategies to address gaps and to rank their top 3 in each category. Qualitative thematic analysis was used. First, duplicate responses were merged and analyses identified emerging themes. Each of the gaps and strategies identified were categorised as falling into the purview of policy-makers, researchers, implementing partners or multiple groups. Results: Participating stakeholders identified 98 gaps and 91 strategies related to increasing research capacity in Nigeria. A total of 45 gaps and an equal number of strategies were ranked; 39 gaps and 43 strategies were then analysed, from which 8 recurring themes emerged for gaps (lack of sufficient funding, poor research focus in education, inadequate mentorship and training, inadequate research infrastructure, lack of collaboration between researchers, research-policy dissonance, lack of motivation for research, lack of leadership buy-in for research) and 7 themes emerged for strategies (increased funding for research, improved research education, improved mentorship and training, improved infrastructure for research, increased collaboration between academic/research institutions, greater engagement between researchers and policy-makers, greater leadership buy-in for research). Conclusions: The gaps and strategies identified in this study represent pathways judged to be important in increasing research and implementation science capacity in Nigeria. The inclusion of perspectives and involvement of stakeholders who play different roles in policy, research and implementation activities makes these findings comprehensive, relevant and actionable, not only in Nigeria but in other similar LMICs. Copyright 2018 The Author(s).
    • Generating evidence for health policy in challenging settings: Lessons learned from four prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV implementation research studies in Nigeria

      Sam-Agudu, N.A.; Aliyu, M.H.; Adeyemi, O.A. (BioMed Central Ltd., 2018)
      Background: Implementation research (IR) facilitates health systems strengthening and optimal patient outcomes by generating evidence for scale-up of efficacious strategies in context. Thus, difficulties in generating IR evidence, particularly in limited-resource settings with wide disease prevention and treatment gaps, need to be anticipated and addressed. Nigeria is a priority country for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). This paper analyses the experiences of four PMTCT IR studies in Nigeria, and proffers solutions to major challenges encountered during implementation. Studies included and findings: Multicentre PMTCT IR studies conducted in Nigeria during the Global Plan's assessment period (2011 to 2015) were included. Four studies were identified, namely The Baby Shower Trial, Optimizing PMTCT, MoMent and Lafiyan Jikin Mata. Major common challenges encountered were categorised as 'External' (beyond the control of study teams) and 'Internal' (amenable to rectification by study teams). External challenges included healthcare worker strikes and turnover, acts and threats of ethnic and political violence and terrorism, and multiplicity of required local ethical reviews. Internal challenges included limited research capacity among study staff, research staff turnover and travel restrictions hindering study site visits. Deliberate research capacity-building was provided to study staff through multiple opportunities before and during study implementation. Post-study employment opportunities and pathways for further research career-building are suggested as incentives for study staff retention. Engagement of study community-resident personnel minimised research staff turnover in violence-prone areas. Conclusions: The IR environment in Nigeria is extremely diverse and challenging, yet, with local experience and anticipatory planning, innovative solutions can be implemented to modulate internal challenges. Issues still remain with healthcare worker strikes and often unpredictable insecurity. There is a dire need for cooperation between institutional review boards across Nigeria in order to minimise the multiplicity of reviews for multicentre studies. External challenges need to be addressed by high-level stakeholders, given Nigeria's crucial regional and global position in the fight against the HIV epidemic. Copyright 2018 The Author(s).
    • Implementation determinants and mechanisms for the prevention and treatment of adolescent HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: concept mapping of the NIH Fogarty International Center Adolescent HIV Implementation Science Alliance (AHISA) initiative

      Aarons, Gregory A; Reeder, Kendal; Sam-Agudu, Nadia A; Vorkoper, Susan; Sturke, Rachel (Springer Nature, 2021-05-22)
      Introduction: Adolescent HIV prevention and treatment is a high priority for youth healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: This study employed concept mapping to identify factors that impact the implementation of HIV prevention and intervention programs for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. Key stakeholders including researchers, policymakers, and non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel constituting membership of the NIH-sponsored Adolescent HIV Prevention and Treatment Implementation Science Alliance responded to the question: "In your experience, what factors have facilitated or hindered implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention or treatment for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa?" Participants generated statements in response to the focus question, sorted them into thematically relevant groups, and rated each statement on its importance and changeability. Results: Through data analyses and participant feedback, 15 distinct themes were derived. "Workforce/Workflow" and "HIV Stigma and Adolescent Development" were rated highest for importance, and "Threshold Conditions for Treatment" and "Structure of Implementation Efforts" were rated most changeable. Conclusions: Understanding implementation science determinants and mechanisms can facilitate the uptake of successful implementation and sustainment strategies for the prevention and treatment of HIV in a given context. We placed determinants and mechanisms within the Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, Sustainment (EPIS) framework to provide greater contextual integration with broader theories in implementation science. Implementers across multiple disciplines can use these findings to improve the scale-up of evidence-based practices for adolescent HIV prevention and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. Implementation approaches that consider the determinants and mechanisms identified in this study and integrated in implementation frameworks will likely have utility for other health conditions and contexts.
    • Strategies to integrate genomic medicine into clinical care: Evidence from the IGNITE network

      Sperber, Nina R.; Dong, Olivia M.; Roberts, Megan C.; Dexter, Paul; Elsey, Amanda R.; Ginsburg, Geoffrey S.; Horowitz, Carol R.; Johnson, Julie A.; Levy, Kenneth D.; Ong, Henry; et al. (MDPI AG, 2021-07-08)
      The complexity of genomic medicine can be streamlined by implementing some form of clinical decision support (CDS) to guide clinicians in how to use and interpret personalized data; however, it is not yet clear which strategies are best suited for this purpose. In this study, we used implementation science to identify common strategies for applying provider-based CDS interventions across six genomic medicine clinical research projects funded by an NIH consortium. Each project’s strategies were elicited via a structured survey derived from a typology of implementation strategies, the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC), and follow-up interviews guided by both implementation strategy reporting criteria and a planning framework, RE-AIM, to obtain more detail about implementation strategies and desired outcomes. We found that, on average, the three pharmacogenomics implementation projects used more strategies than the disease-focused projects. Overall, projects had four implementation strategies in common; however, operationalization of each differed in accordance with each study’s implementation outcomes. These four common strategies may be important for precision medicine program implementation, and pharmacogenomics may require more integration into clinical care. Understanding how and why these strategies were successfully employed could be useful for others implementing genomic or precision medicine programs in different contexts. © 2021 by the authors.