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Objectives: This study aimed to assess the accuracy of pregnant women’s perceptions of maternity facility quality and the association between perception accuracy and the quality of facility chosen for delivery.

Design: A cohort study.

Setting: Nairobi, Kenya.

Participants: 180 women, surveyed during pregnancy and 2 to 4 weeks after delivery.

Primary outcome measures: Women were surveyed during pregnancy regarding their perceptions of the quality of all facilities they were considering during delivery and then, after delivery, about their ultimate facility choice. Perceptions of quality were based on perceived ability to handle emergencies and complications. Delivery facilities were assigned a quality index score based on a direct assessment of performance of emergency ‘signal functions’, skilled provider availability, medical equipment and drug stocks. ‘Accurate perceptions’ was a binary variable equal to one if a woman’s ranking of facilities based on her quality perception equalled the index ranking. Ordinary least squares and logistic regressions were used to analyse associations between accurate perceptions and quality of the facility chosen for delivery.

Results: Assessed technical quality was modest, with an average index score of 0.65. 44% of women had accurate perceptions of quality ranking. Accurate perceptions were associated with a 0.069 higher delivery facility quality score (p=0.039; 95%CI: 0.004 to 0.135) and with a 14.5% point higher probability of delivering in a facility in the top quartile of the quality index (p=0.015; 95%CI: 0.029 to 0.260).

Conclusions: Patient misperceptions of technical quality were associated with use of lower quality facilities. Larger studies could determine whether improving patient information about relative facility quality can encourage use of higher quality care.

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Published Paper
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July 30, 2019
English

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy non-profit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. Since our founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 575 leading academics to conduct over 650 evaluations in 51 countries. Future growth will be concentrated in focus countries, such as Myanmar, where we have local and international staff, established relationships with government, NGOs, and the private sector, and deep knowledge of local issues.

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Brief
Date:
July 08, 2019
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Background

Globally, there has been increasing attention to women’s experiences of care and calls for a person-centered care approach. At the heart of this approach is the patient-provider relationship. It is necessary to examine the extent to which providers and women agree on the care that is provided and received. Studies have found that incongruence between women’s and providers’ perceptions may negatively impact women’s compliance, satisfaction, and future use of health facilities. However, there are no studies that examine patient and provider perspectives on person-centered care.

Methods

To fill this gap in the literature, we use cross-sectional data of 531 women and 33 providers in seven government health facilities in Kenya to assess concordance and discordance in person-centered care measures. Additionally, we analyze 41 in-depth interviews with providers from three of these facilities to examine why differences in reporting may occur. Descriptive statistical methods were used to measure the magnitude of differences between reports of women and reports of providers. Thematic analyses were conducted for provider surveys.

Results

Our findings suggest high discordance between women and providers’ perspectives in regard to person-centered care experiences. On average, women reported lower levels of person-centered care compared to providers, including low respectful and dignified care, communication and autonomy, and supportive care. Providers were more likely to report higher rates of poor health facility environment such as having sufficient staff. We summarize the overarching reasons for the divergence in women and provider reports as: 1) different understanding or interpretation of person-centered care behaviors, and 2) different expectations, norms or values of provider behaviors. Providers rationalized abuse towards women, did not allow a companion of choice, and blamed women for poor patient-provider communication. Women lacked assurance in privacy and confidentiality, and faced challenges related to the health facility environment. Providers attributed poor person-centered care to both individual and facility/systemic factors.

Conclusions

Implications of this study suggests that providers should be trained on person-centered care approaches and women should be counseled on understanding patient rights and how to communicate with health professionals.

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June 10, 2019

For the most vulnerable, even small negative shocks can have significant short- and long-term impacts. Few interventions that improve shock-coping are widely available in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers test whether individual pre- cautionary savings can mitigate a shock-coping behavior with potentially neg- ative spillovers: transactional sex. Sex for money is a common shock-coping behavior in sub-Saharan Africa and is believed to be a leading driver of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In a field experiment in Kenya, researchers randomly assigned half of 600+ participating, vulnerable women to a savings intervention that consists of opening a mobile banking savings account labeled for emergency expenses and individual goals. The intervention led to an increase in total mobile savings, reductions in transactional sex as a risk-coping response to shocks, and a decrease in symptoms of sexually transmitted infections.

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Working Paper
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June 05, 2019

We evaluate the impact of a large-scale information and mobilization intervention designed to improve health service delivery in rural Uganda by increasing citizens’ ability to monitor and apply bottom-up pressure on underperforming health workers. Modeled closely on the landmark “Power to the People” study (Björkman and Svensson, 2009), the intervention was undertaken in 376 health centers in 16 districts and involved a three-wave panel of more than 14,000 households. We find that while the intervention had a modest positive impact on treatment quality and patient satisfaction, it had no effect on utilization rates or health outcomes (including child mortality). We also find no evidence that the channel through which the intervention affected treatment quality was citizen monitoring. The results hold in a wide set of pre-specified subgroups and also when, via a factorial design, we break down the complex intervention into its two most important components. Our findings cast doubt on the power of information to foster community monitoring or to generate improvements in health outcomes, at least in the short term.

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Working Paper
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March 26, 2019
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We use a randomized experiment in Kenya to study the impact of unconditional cash transfers on intimate partner violence. Transfers to women of on average USD 709 led to a 0.26 standard deviation (SD) decrease in physical violence, and transfers to men to a 0.18 SD decrease. Sexual violence was reduced after transfers to women (0.22 SD), but not men. We construct a theory which together with our empirical findings suggests that husbands use violence to extract resources, but dislike it otherwise. We observe large and significant spillovers: nonrecipient women in treatment villages report a 0.16 SD reduction in physical violence.

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Working Paper
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February 24, 2019
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Background Novartis Access is a Novartis programme that offers a portfolio of non-communicable disease medicines at a wholesale price of US$1 per treatment per month in low-income and middle-income countries. We evaluated the effect of Novartis Access in Kenya, the first country to receive the programme. Methods We did a cluster-randomised controlled trial in eight counties in Kenya. Counties (clusters) were randomly assigned to the intervention or the control group with a covariate-constrained randomisation procedure that maximised balance on a set of demographic and health variables. In intervention counties, public and non-profit health facilities were allowed to purchase Novartis Access medicines from the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS). Data were collected from all facilities served by MEDS and a sample of households in study counties. Households were eligible if they had at least one adult patient who had been diagnosed and prescribed medicines for one of the non-communicable diseases targeted by the programme: hypertension, heart failure, dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes, asthma, or breast cancer. Primary outcomes were availability and price of portfolio medicines at health facilities, irrespective of brand; and availability of medicines at patient households. Impacts were estimated with intention-to-treat analysis. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02773095).

Findings On March 8, 2016, we randomly assigned eight clusters to intervention (four clusters; 74 health facilities; 342 patients) or control (four clusters; 63 health facilities; 297 patients). 69 intervention and 58 control health facilities, and 306 intervention and 265 control patients were evaluated after a 15 month intervention period (last visit February 28, 2018). Novartis Access significantly increased the availability of amlodipine (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2·84, 95% CI 1·10 to 7·37; p=0·031) and metformin (aOR 4·78, 95% CI 1·44 to 15·86; p=0·011) at health facilities, but did not affect the availability of portfolio medicines overall (adjusted β [aβ] 0·05, 95% CI –0·01 to 0·10; p=0·096) or their price (aβ 0·48, 95% CI –1·12 to 0·72; p=0·500). The programme did not affect medicine availability at patient households (aOR 0·83, 95% CI 0·44 to 1·57; p=0·569).

Interpretation Novartis Access had little effect in its first year in Kenya. Access programmes operate within complex health systems and reducing the wholesale price of medicines might not always or immediately translate to improved patient access. The evidence generated by this study will inform Novartis’s efforts to improve their programme going forward. The study also contributes to the public evidence base on strategies for improving access to medicines globally

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February 21, 2019
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We embed a field experiment in a nationwide recruitment drive for nurses in Zambia to test whether career benefits attract talent at the expense of prosocial motivation. We randomize the offer of career benefits at the recruitment stage. In line with common wisdom, treatment attracts less prosocial applicants. However, the trade-off only exists at low levels of talent; the marginal applicants in treatment are more talented and equally pro-social. These are hired, and they perform better at every step of the chain: they deliver more services, promote institutional childbirth, and reduce child malnutrition by 25% in the communities they serve.

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Working Paper
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February 05, 2019
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Violence against women (VAW) is widespread in East Africa, with almost half of married women experiencing physical abuse. Those seeking to address this policy issue confront two challenges. First, some forms of domestic violence are widely condoned; majorities of men and women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife in a variety of scenarios. Second, victims and bystanders are often reluctant to report incidents to authorities. Building on a growing literature showing that education-entertainment can change norms and behaviors, we present experimental evidence from a media campaign attended by over 10,000 Ugandans in 112 villages. In randomly assigned villages, video dramatizations discouraged VAW and encouraged reporting. Results from interviews conducted several months after the intervention show no change in attitudes condoning VAW yet a substantial increase in willingness to report to authorities, especially among women, and a decline in the share of women who experienced violence.
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Working Paper
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January 31, 2019
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In Uganda, researchers conducted a large-scale randomized evaluation of a program called Accountability Can Transform (ACT) Health. The program provided community members and health care workers information about the quality of their local health services and brought them together to create action plans for how to improve local health service accountability, delivery, and quality. The study built on previous research of a similar program called Power to the People, which was found to greatly improve child health.

Key Findings

Twenty months after the program began:1

  • The program marginally improved the quality of treatment patients received and increased patient satisfaction.
  • However, the program did not affect how often people sought health care (utilization rates) or improve health outcomes; child mortality rates were unchanged.
  • Results were similar one and two years into the program and were consistent across different groups; no health effects were found in any subgroup.
  • Contrary to the theory of change motivating the intervention, there was no evidence that the program caused citizens to more closely monitor or apply pressure on service providers.
  • Overall, the findings suggest a combination of information provision and increased oversight can marginally change the behavior of frontline service providers, but cast doubt on the power of information to foster community monitoring or to generate improvements in health outcomes, including child mortality, at least in the short term.

On average the time between the launch of the program and the final survey was 20 months.

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December 14, 2018
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Individuals care about how they are perceived by others, and take visible actions to signal their type. This paper investigates social signaling in the context of childhood immunization in Sierra Leone. Despite high initial vaccine take-up, many parents do not complete the five immunizations that are required in a child’s first year of life. I introduce a durable signal - in the form of differently colored bracelets - which children receive upon vaccination, and implement a 22-month-long experiment in 120 public clinics. Informed by theory, the experimental design separately identifies social signaling from leading alternative mechanisms. In a first main finding, I show that individuals use signals to learn about others’ actions. Second, I find that the impact of signals varies significantly with the social desirability of the action. In particular, the signal has a weak effect when linked to a vaccine with low perceived benefits and a large, positive effect when linked to a vaccine with high perceived benefits. Of substantive policy importance, signals increase timely and complete vaccination at a cost of approximately 1 USD per child, with effects persisting 12 months after the roll out. Finally, I structurally estimate a dynamic discrete-choice model to quantify the value of social signaling.

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December 12, 2018
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IPA Zambia is pleased to share its Q1-Q3 bulletin from 2018. This bulletin highlights IPA Zambia's participation in research dissemination and conference events, including the Evidence for Impact Symposium and the Third National Food and Nutrition Summit.

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November 19, 2018
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Background: Helminth and protozoan infections affect >1 billion children globally. Improved water, sanitation, handwashing, and nutrition could be more sustainable control strategies for parasite infections than mass drug administration (MDA), while providing other quality of life benefits. Methods and Findings: We enrolled geographic clusters of pregnant women into a cluster-randomized controlled trial that tested six interventions: disinfecting drinking water(W), improved sanitation(S), handwashing with soap(H), combined WSH, improved nutrition(N), and combined WSHN. We assessed intervention effects on parasite infections by measuring Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, hookworm, and Giardia duodenalis among individual children born to enrolled mothers and their older siblings (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01704105). We collected stool specimens from 9077 total children in 622 clusters, including 2346 children in control, 1117 in water, 1160 in sanitation, 1141 in handwashing, 1064 in WSH, 1072 in nutrition, and 1177 in WSHN. In the control group, 23% of children were infected with Ascaris lumbricoides, 1% with Trichuris trichuria, 2% with hookworm and 39% with Giardia duodenalis. After two years of intervention exposure, Ascaris infection prevalence was 18% lower in the water treatment arm (95% confidence interval (CI) 0%, 33%), 22% lower in the WSH arm (CI 4%, 37%), and 22% lower in the WSHN arm (CI 4%, 36%) compared to control. Individual sanitation, handwashing, and nutrition did not significantly reduce Ascaris infection on their own, and integrating nutrition with WSH did not provide additional benefit. Trichuris and hookworm were rarely detected, resulting in imprecise effect estimates. No intervention reduced Giardia. Reanalysis of stool samples by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) confirmed the reductions in Ascaris infections measured by microscopy in the WSH and WSHN groups. Lab technicians and data analysts were blinded to treatment assignment, but participants and sample collectors were not blinded. The trial was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. Conclusions: Our results suggest integration of improved water quality, sanitation, and handwashing could contribute to sustainable control strategies for Ascaris infections, particularly in similar settings with recent or ongoing deworming programs. Water treatment alone was similarly effective to integrated WSH, providing new evidence that drinking water should be given increased attention as a transmission pathway for Ascaris. Clinical trial registration ID #NCT01704105.

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November 09, 2018
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In Rwanda, we have continued our global tradition of rigorous, applicable research by building foundational research capacity and conducting evaluations in areas of pressing national concern. Examples of our work below offer promising insights into everyday issues that affect the lives of the Rwandan poor. 

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Brief
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October 17, 2018
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How do standard development programs compare to just giving people cash? In Rwanda, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to shed light on this question. Villages were randomly assigned to one of four groups: they received either a USAID-funded, integrated WASH and nutrition program (with savings and asset transfer components), unconditional cash grants of equal cost to the donor, a larger cash transfer, or no program at the time of study. The transfers were funded by USAID and Google.org.

The evaluation measured impacts on five main health and economic outcomes: household dietary diversity, maternal and child anemia, child growth (height-for-age, weight-for-age, and mid-upper arm circumference), household wealth, and household consumption, as well as other secondary outcomes, such as savings.

Key Findings:

After approximately one year:

»  The integrated nutrition and WASH program had a positive impact on savings, a secondary outcome, among the eligible population, but did not impact any primary outcomes (household dietary diversity, maternal or child anemia, child growth, household consumption, or wealth) within the period of the study.

»  An equivalent amount of cash (a cost to USAID of $142 per household) allowed households to pay down debt and boosted productive and consumption assets, but did not impact child health outcomes.

»  A much larger cash transfer—of more than $500 per household—had a wide range of benefits: it not only increased consumption, savings, assets, and house values,but improved household dietary diversity and height-for-age, and decreased child mortality.

»  The results suggest that, over the time period of the study, targeted programs focused on changing specific outcomes may be able to do so at lower cost than cash, but that large investments of cash can more rapidly affect some leading indicators of malnutrition.

»  The results also suggest that large cash transfers impact not only the economic measures of consumption and wealth, but also dietary diversity, height-for-age, and child mortality, while small transfers appear to have more limited benefits.

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September 18, 2018

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