What factors impact on the implementation of clubfoot treatment services in low and middle-income countries?: a narrative synthesis of existing qualitative studies.
Drew S., Gooberman-Hill R., Lavy C.
BACKGROUND: Around 100,000 children are born annually with clubfoot worldwide and 80% live in low and middle-income counties (LMICs). Clubfoot is a condition in which children are born with one or both feet twisted inwards and if untreated it can limit participation in everyday life. Clubfoot can be corrected through staged manipulation of the limbs using the Ponseti method. Despite its efficacy and apparent availability, previous research has identified a number of challenges to service implementation. The aim of this study was to synthesise these findings to explore factors that impact on the implementation of clubfoot services in LMICs and strategies to address them. Understanding these may help practitioners in other settings develop more effective services. METHODS: Five databases were searched and articles screened using six criteria. Articles were appraised using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist. 11 studies were identified for inclusion. A thematic analysis was conducted. RESULTS: Thematic analysis of the included studies showed that a lack of access to resources was a challenge including a lack of casting materials and abduction braces. Difficulties within the working environment included limited space and a need to share treatment space with other clinics. A shortage of healthcare professionals was a concern and participants thought that there was a lack of time to deliver treatment. This was exacerbated by the competing demands on clinicians. Lack of training was seen to impact on standards, including the nurses and midwives attending to the child at birth that were failing to diagnose the condition. Financial constraints were seen to underlie many of these problems. Some participants identified failures in communication and cooperation within the healthcare system such as a lack of awareness of clinics. Strategies to address these issues included means of increasing resource availability and the delivery of targeted training. The use of non-governmental organisations to provide financial support and methods to disseminate best practice were discussed. CONCLUSIONS: This study identified factors that impact on the implementation of clubfoot services in LMIC settings.Findings may be used to improve service delivery.