Browsing by Author "Couper, Ian"
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- ItemAfrican primary care research : writing a research report(AOSIS Publishing, 2014-06) Couper, Ian; Mash, BobPresenting a research report is an important way of demonstrating one’s ability to conduct research and is a requirement of most research-based degrees. Although known by various names across academic institutions, the structure required is mostly very similar, being based on the Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion format of scientific articles. This article offers some guidance on the process of writing, aimed at helping readers to start and to continue their writing; and to assist them in presenting a report that is received positively by their readers, including examiners. It also details the typical components of the research report, providing some guidelines for each, as well as the pitfalls to avoid. This article is part of a series on African Primary Care Research that aims to build capacity for research particularly at a Master’s level.
- ItemConsequences, conditions and caveats : a qualitative exploration of the influence of undergraduate health professions students at distributed clinical training sites(BMC (part of Springer Nature), 2018-12-19) Van Schalkwyk, Susan; Blitz, Julia; Couper, Ian; De Villiers, Marietjie; Lourens, Guin; Muller, Jana; Van Heerden, BenBackground: Traditionally, the clinical training of health professionals has been located in central academic hospitals. This is changing. As academic institutions explore ways to produce a health workforce that meets the needs of both the health system and the communities it serves, the placement of students in these communities is becoming increasingly common. While there is a growing literature on the student experience at such distributed sites, we know less about how the presence of students influences the site itself. We therefore set out to elicit insights from key role-players at a number of distributed health service-based training sites about the contribution that students make and the influence their presence has on that site. Methods: This interpretivist study analysed qualitative data generated during twenty-four semi-structured interviews with facility managers, clinical supervisors and other clinicians working at eight distributed sites. A sampling grid was used to select sites that proportionally represented location, level of care and mix of health professions students. Transcribed data were subjected to thematic analysis. Following an iterative process, initial analyses and code lists were discussed and compared between team members after which the data were coded systematically across the entire data set. Results: The clustering and categorising of codes led to the generation of three over-arching themes: influence on the facility (culturally and materially); on patient care and community (contribution to service; improved patient outcomes); and on supervisors (enriched work experience, attitude towards teaching role). A subsequent stratified analysis of emergent events identified some consequences of taking clinical training to distributed sites. These consequences occurred when certain conditions were present. Further critical reflection pointed to a set of caveats that modulated the nature of these conditions, emphasising the complexity inherent in this context. Conclusions: The move towards training health professions students at distributed sites potentially offers many affordances for the facilities where the training takes places, for those responsible for student supervision, and for the patients and communities that these facilities serve. In establishing and maintaining relationships with the facilities, academic institutions will need to be mindful of the conditions and caveats that can influence these affordances.
- ItemCurriculum and training needs of mid-level health workers in Africa : a situational review from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda(BioMed Central, 2018-07-16) Couper, Ian; Ray, Sunanda; Blaauw, Duane; Ng’wena, Gideon; Muchiri, Lucy; Oyungu, Eren; Omigbodun, Akinyinka; Morhason-Bello, Imran; Ibingira, Charles; Tumwine, James; Conco, Daphney; Fonn, SharonBackground: Africa’s health systems rely on services provided by mid-level health workers (MLWs). Investment in their training is worthwhile since they are more likely to be retained in underserved areas, require shorter training courses and are less dependent on technology and investigations in their clinical practice than physicians. Their training programs and curricula need up-dating to be relevant to their practice and to reflect advances in health professional education. This study was conducted to review the training and curricula of MLWs in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, to ascertain areas for improvement. Methods: Key informants from professional associations, regulatory bodies, training institutions, labour organisations and government ministries were interviewed in each country. Policy documents and training curricula were reviewed for relevant content. Feedback was provided through stakeholder and participant meetings and comments recorded. 421 District managers and 975 MLWs from urban and rural government district health facilities completed self-administered questionnaires regarding MLW training and performance. Results: Qualitative data indicated commonalities in scope of practice and in training programs across the four countries, with a focus on basic diagnosis and medical treatment. Older programs tended to be more didactic in their training approach and were often lacking in resources. Significant concerns regarding skills gaps and quality of training were raised. Nevertheless, quantitative data showed that most MLWs felt their basic training was adequate for the work they do. MLWs and district managers indicated that training methods needed updating with additional skills offered. MLWs wanted their training to include more problem-solving approaches and practical procedures that could be life-saving. Conclusions: MLWs are essential frontline workers in health services, not just a stop-gap. In Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, their important role is appreciated by health service managers. At the same time, significant deficiencies in training program content and educational methodologies exist in these countries, whereas programs in South Africa appear to have benefited from their more recent origin. Improvements to training and curricula, based on international educational developments as well as the local burden of disease, will enable them to function with greater effectiveness and contribute to better quality care and outcomes.
- ItemDecentralised training for medical students : a scoping review(BioMed Central, 2017-11-09) De Villiers, Marietjie; Van Schalkwyk, Susan; Blitz, Julia; Couper, Ian; Moodley, Kalavani; Talib, Zohray; Young, TarynBackground: Increasingly, medical students are trained at sites away from the tertiary academic health centre. A growing body of literature identifies the benefits of decentralised clinical training for students, the health services and the community. A scoping review was done to identify approaches to decentralised training, how these have been implemented and what the outcomes of these approaches have been in an effort to provide a knowledge base towards developing a model for decentralised training for undergraduate medical students in lower and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods: Using a comprehensive search strategy, the following databases were searched, namely EBSCO Host, ERIC, HRH Global Resources, Index Medicus, MEDLINE and WHO Repository, generating 3383 references. The review team identified 288 key additional records from other sources. Using prespecified eligibility criteria, the publications were screened through several rounds. Variables for the data-charting process were developed, and the data were entered into a custom-made online Smartsheet database. The data were analysed qualitatively and quantitatively. Results: One hundred and five articles were included. Terminology most commonly used to describe decentralised training included ‘rural’, ‘community based’ and ‘longitudinal rural’. The publications largely originated from Australia, the United States of America (USA), Canada and South Africa. Fifty-five percent described decentralised training rotations for periods of more than six months. Thematic analysis of the literature on practice in decentralised medical training identified four themes, each with a number of subthemes. These themes were student learning, the training environment, the role of the community, and leadership and governance. Conclusions: Evident from our findings are the multiplicity and interconnectedness of factors that characterise approaches to decentralised training. The student experience is nested within a particular context that is framed by the leadership and governance that direct it, and the site and the community in which the training is happening. Each decentralised site is seen to have its own dynamic that may foreground certain elements, responding differently to enabling student learning and influencing the student experience. The insights that have been established through this review have relevance in informing the further expansion of decentralised clinical training, including in LMIC contexts.
- ItemDecentralised training for medical students : towards a South African consensus(AOSIS publishing, 2017-09) De Villiers, Marietjie R.; Blitz, Julia; Couper, Ian; Kent, Athol; Moodley, Kalavani; Talib, Zohray; Van Schalkwyk, Susan; Young, TarynIntroduction: Health professions training institutions are challenged to produce greater numbers of graduates who are more relevantly trained to provide quality healthcare. Decentralised training offers opportunities to address these quantity, quality and relevance factors. We wanted to draw together existing expertise in decentralised training for the benefit of all health professionals to develop a model for decentralised training for health professions students. Method: An expert panel workshop was held in October 2015 initiating a process to develop a model for decentralised training in South Africa. Presentations on the status quo in decentralised training at all nine medical schools in South Africa were made and 33 delegates engaged in discussing potential models for decentralised training. Results: Five factors were found to be crucial for the success of decentralised training, namely the availability of information and communication technology, longitudinal continuous rotations, a focus on primary care, the alignment of medical schools’ mission with decentralised training and responsiveness to student needs. Conclusion: The workshop concluded that training institutions should continue to work together towards formulating decentralised training models and that the involvement of all health professions should be ensured. A tripartite approach between the universities, the Department of Health and the relevant local communities is important in decentralised training. Lastly, curricula should place more emphasis on how students learn rather than how they are taught.
- ItemExploration of rural physicians’ lived experience of practising outside their usual scope of practice to provide access to essential medical care (clinical courage) : an international phenomenological study(BMJ Publishing, 2020-08) Konkin, Jill; Grave, Laura; Cockburn, Ella; Couper, Ian; Stewart, Ruth Alison; Campbell, David; Walters, LucieObjectives: Rural doctors describe consistent pressure to provide extended care beyond the limits of their formal training in order to meet the needs of the patients and communities they serve. This study explored the lived experience of rural doctors when they practise outside their usual scope of practice to provide medical care for people who would otherwise not have access to essential clinical services. Design: A hermeneutic phenomenological study. Setting: An international rural medicine conference. Participants: All doctors attending the conference who practised medicine in rural/remote areas in a predominantly English-speaking community were eligible to participate; 27 doctors were recruited. Interventions: Semi-structured interviews were conducted. The transcripts were initially read and analysed by individual researchers before they were read aloud to the group to explore meanings more fully. Two researchers then reviewed the transcripts to develop the results section which was then rechecked by the broader group. Primary outcome measure: An understanding of the lived experiences of clinical courage. Results: Participants provided in-depth descriptions of experiences we have termed clinical courage. This phenomenon included the following features: Standing up to serve anybody and everybody in the community; Accepting uncertainty and persistently seeking to prepare; Deliberately understanding and marshalling resources in the context; Humbly seeking to know one’s own limits; Clearing the cognitive hurdle when something needs to be done for your patient; Collegial support to stand up again. Conclusion: This study elucidated six features of the phenomenon of clinical courage through the narratives of the lived experience of rural generalist doctors.
- ItemFactors influencing choice of site for rural clinical placements by final year medical students in a South African university(AOSIS publishing, 2017-04) Mapukata, Nontsikelelo O.; Dube, Rainy; Couper, Ian; Mlambo, Motlatso G.Background: Most of South Africa’s citizens who live in rural or underserved communities rely on the public health care sector to access quality health care. The value of rural exposure through clinical placements is well documented. Medical schools in South Africa have a responsibility to provide solutions that address the prevailing human resources challenges. Despite this commitment, medical students do not necessarily appreciate their role in resolving South Africa’s human resources challenges. This study aimed to assess the factors that influenced the choice of clinical learning sites in a self-selection process undertaken by Wits final year medical students for the compulsory 6-week integrated primary care block rotation. Methods: Qualitative data related to reasons for choice of service learning site were gathered from 524 pre-placement questionnaires completed by final year medical students entering the rotation over a 3-year period (2012–2014). Thematic analysis was performed using the MAXQDA software. Results: Eight themes emerged from the study indicating that the majority of participants were in favour of local urban underserved placement. Contextual factors, such as work commitments or family responsibilities, being compromised socially and losing academic standing were the main reasons for seeking urban placement. Good supervision, opportunistic learning, skills development and moral support were reasons for seeking rural placements. Previous voluntary exposure to rural practice or being of rural origin was a strong indicator for uptake of rural placement. Conclusion: This study has demonstrated the challenges faced by coordinators in balancing personal and institutional needs with country needs and the contextual factors that must be considered when implementing medical education programmes that respond to social challenges.
- ItemInvestigating competencies needed by European-trained doctors in rural South African hospitals(2020-08-25) Barnacle, James R; Johnson, Oliver; Couper, IanBackground: Many European-trained doctors (ETDs) recruited to work in rural district hospitals in South Africa have insufficient generalist competencies for the range of practice required. Africa Health Placements recruits ETDs to work in rural hospitals in Africa. Many of these doctors feel inadequately prepared. The Stellenbosch University Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health is launching a Postgraduate Diploma in Rural Medicine to help prepare doctors for such work.
- ItemPreparing graduates for interprofessional practice in South Africa : the dissonance between learning and practice(Frontiers Media, 2021) Muller, Jana; Couper, IanWith South Africa's tumultuous history and resulting burden of disease and disability persisting post-democracy in 1994, a proposed decentralization of heath care with an urgent focus on disease prevention strategies ensued in 2010. Subsequently a nationwide call by students to adapt teaching and learning to an African context spoke to the need for responsive health professions training. Institutions of higher education are therefore encouraged to commit to person-centered comprehensive primary health care (PHC) education which equates to distributed training along the continuum of care. To cope with the complexity of patient care and health care systems, interprofessional education and collaborative practice has been recommended in undergraduate clinical training. Stellenbosch University, South Africa, introduced interprofessional home visits as part of the students' contextual PHC exposure in a rural community in 2012. This interprofessional approach to patient assessment and management in an under-resourced setting challenges students to collaboratively find local solutions to the complex problems identified. This paper reports on an explorative pilot study investigating students' and graduates' perceived value of their interprofessional home visit exposure in preparing them for working in South Africa. Qualitative semi-structured individual and focus group interviews with students and graduates from five different health sciences programmes were conducted. Primary and secondary data sources were analyzed using an inductive approach. Thematic analysis was conducted independently by two researchers and revealed insights into effective patient management requiring an interprofessional team approach. Understanding social determinants of health, other professions' roles, as well as scope and limitations of practice in a resource constrained environment can act as a precursor for collaborative patient care. The continuity of an interprofessional approach to patient care after graduation was perceived to be largely dependent on relationships and professional hierarchy in the workplace. Issues of hierarchy, which are often systemic, affect a sense of professional value, efficacy in patient management and job satisfaction. Limitations to using secondary data for analysis are discussed, noting the need for a larger more comprehensive study. Recommendations for rural training pathways include interprofessional teamwork and health care worker advocacy to facilitate collaborative care in practice.
- ItemReorganisation of primary care services during COVID-19 in the Western Cape, South Africa : perspectives of primary care nurses(AOSIS, 2021-11) Crowley, Talitha; Kitshoff, Danine; De Lange-Cloete, Frances; Baron, Justine; De Lange, Santel; Young, Cornelle; Esterhuizen, Tonya; Couper, IanBackground: Primary care nurses play a pivotal role in the response to disasters and pandemics. The coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic required preventative, diagnostic, and curative measures for persons presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 by healthcare providers, whilst continuing other essential services. We aimed to investigate the reorganisation of primary care services during COVID-19 from the perspectives of primary care nurses in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Methods: We administered an online survey with closed and open-ended questions to professional nurses enrolled for a Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Care Nursing at Stellenbosch University (2020) and alumni (2017–2019) working in the Western Cape. Eighty-three participants completed the questionnaire. Results: The majority of the participants (74.4%) reported that they were reorganising services using a multitude of initiatives in response to the diverse infrastructure, logistics and services of the various healthcare facilities. Despite this, 48.2% of the participants expressed concerns, which mainly related to possible non-adherence of patients with chronic conditions, the lack of promotive and preventative services, challenges with facility infrastructure, and staff time devoted to triage and screening. More than half of the participants (57.8%) indicated that other services were affected by COVID-19, whilst 44.6% indicated that these services were worse than before. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the very necessary reorganisation of services that took place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa enabled effective management of patients infected with COVID-19. However, the reorganisation of services may have longer-term consequences for primary care services in terms of lack of care for patients with other conditions, as well as preventive and promotive care.
- ItemSexual history taking : perspectives on doctor-patient interactions during routine consultations in rural primary care in South Africa(Oxford University Press, 2021-07) Pretorius, Deidre; Couper, Ian; Mlambo, MotlatsoBackground: Sexual history taking for risk behavior contributes to improving health outcomes in primary care. Giving the high numbers of people living with AIDS, every patient in South Africa should be offered an HIV test, which implies that a comprehensive sexual history must be taken. Aim: To describe the optimal consultation process, as well as associated factors and skills required to improve disclosure of sexual health issues during a clinical encounter with a doctor in primary health care settings in North West province, South Africa. Methods: This qualitative study, based on grounded theory, involved the video-recording of 151 consultations of adult patients living primarily with hypertension and diabetes. This article reports on the 5 consultations where some form of sexual history taking was observed. Patient consultations were analyzed thematically, which entailed open coding, followed by focused and verbatim coding using MaxQDA 2018 software. Confirmability was ensured by 2 generalist doctors, a public health specialist and the study supervisors. Main Outcome Measure: Sexual history was not taken and patients living with sexual dysfunction were missed. If patients understand how disease and medication contribute to their sexual wellbeing, this may change their perceptions of the illness and adherence patterns. Results: Sexual history was taken in 5 (3%) out of 151 consultations. Three themes emerged from these 5 consultations. In the patient-doctor relationship theme, patients experienced paternalism and a lack of warmth and respect. The consultation context theme included the seating arrangements, ineffective use of time, and privacy challenges due to interruptions and translators. Theme 3, consultation content, dealt with poor coverage of the components of the sexual health history. Conclusion: Overall, sexual dysfunction in patients was totally overlooked and risk for HIV was not explored, which had a negative effect on patients’ quality of life and long-term health outcomes. The study provided detailed information on the complexity of sexual history taking during a routine consultation and is relevant to primary health care in a rural setting.
- ItemSupport nurses and midwives to strengthen healthcare systems(James Cook University, 2020-06-13) Fields, Bronwyn; Sibanda, Bongi; Couper, IanNurses and midwives make up more than half of the global health workforce1. WHO has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife2 to recognize their contribution, and to highlight the challenges they face in meeting the needs of the communities they serve. Both the International Council of Nurses’ International Nurses Day3 and the first State of the World’s Nursing report4, recently launched by the International Council of Nurses and WHO respectively, highlight the crucial role played by nurses and midwives in health promotion, disease prevention and treatment. Their role is even more important in Africa, and in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in other regions, where nurses are often the only health professionals accessible to rural and remote communities.
- ItemTraining for transformation : opportunities and challenges for health workforce sustainability in developing a remote clinical training platform(Frontiers, 2021-04) Muller, Jana; Reardon, Cameron; Hanekom, Susan; Bester, Juanita; Coetzee, Francois; Dube, Kopano; Du Plessis, Elmarize; Couper, IanBackground: In 2018, Stellenbosch University’s Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health led a faculty initiative to expand undergraduate health professions training to a new site, 9 hours drive from the health sciences campus in the sparsely populated Northern Cape Province of South Africa in the town of Upington. This is part of a faculty strategy to extend undergraduate health sciences training into an under-resourced part of the country, where there is no medical school. During 2019, the first year of implementation, four final year medical students undertook a longitudinal integrated clerkship at this site, while final year students from other programmes undertook short 5-week rotations, with plans for extending rotations and including more disciplines in 2020. The aim of this study was to understand stakeholder perceptions regarding the development of Upington as a rural clinical training site and how this influenced existing services, workforce sustainability and health professions education. Methods: An iterative thematic analysis of qualitative data collected from 55 participants between January and November 2019 was conducted as part of the case study. A constructivist approach to data collection was utilized to explore participants’ perceptions, experiences and understanding of the new training site. Triangulation of data collection and reflexive thematic analysis contributed to the trustworthiness of the data and credibility of the findings. Findings: The perceptions of three key groups of stakeholders are reported: (1) Dr. Harry Surtie Hospital and Academic Programme Managers; (2) Supervising and non-supervising clinical staff and (3) Students from three undergraduate programs of the Faculty. Five themes emerged regarding the development of the site. The themes include the process of development; the influence on the health service; workforce sustainability; a change in perspective and equipping a future workforce. Discussion: This case study provides data to support the value of establishing a rural clinical training platform in a resource constrained environment. The influence of the expansion initiative on the current workforce speaks to the potential for improved capacity and competence in patient management with an impact on encouraging a rural oriented workforce. Using this case study to explore how the establishment of a new rural clinical training site is perceived to influence rural workforce sustainability and pathways, may have relevance to other institutions in similar settings. The degree of sustainability of the clinical training initiative is explored.
- ItemTransformation of medical education through decentralised training platforms : a scoping review(James Cook University, 2018) Mlambo, Motlatso; Dreyer, Abigail; Dube, Rainy; Mapukata, Nontsikelelo; Couper, Ian; Cooke, RichardIntroduction: Medical education in South Africa is facing a major paradigm shift. The urgency to increase the number of suitable, qualified and socially accountable health sciences graduates has brought to the fore the need to identify alternative training platforms and learning environments, often in rural areas. Subsequently, the focus has now shifted towards strengthening primary health care and community based health services. This scoping review presents a synopsis of the existing literature on decentralized training platform (DTP) strategies for medical education internationally, outlining existing models within it and its impact. Methods: This scoping review followed Arksey and O’Malley’s framework outlining five stages: (i) identification of a research question, (ii) identification of relevant studies, (iii) study selection criteria, (iv) data charting, and (v) collating, summarizing and reporting results. The literature for the scoping review was found using online databases, reference lists and hand searched journals. Data were charted and sorted inductively according to key themes. Results: A final review included 59 articles ranging over the years 1987–2015 with the largest group of studies falling in the period 2011–2015 (47.5%). Studies mostly employed quantitative (32.2%), qualitative (20.3%), systematic/literature review (18.6%) and mixed methods research approaches (11.9%). The scoping review highlighted a range of DTP strategies for transforming medical education. These include training for rural workforce, addressing context specific competencies to promote social accountability, promoting community engagement, and medical education partnerships. Viable models of DTP include community based education, distributed community engaged learning, discipline based clinical rotations, longitudinal clerkships and dedicated tracks focusing on rural issues. Shorter rural placements and supplemental rural tracks are also described. Conclusions: This scoping review showed a considerable amount of literature on decentralized training platforms that highlight the necessary adaptations needed for transforming medical education. The rural context is critical for many of these. Further studies are required to address the impact of DTPs on health service outcomes and human resource outcomes.
- ItemThe value of the WIRHE Scholarship Programme in training health professionals for rural areas : views of participants(AOSIS publishing, 2017-10) Mapukata, Nontsikelelo O.; Couper, Ian; Smith, JocelynIntroduction: Rural hospitals in South Africa, as elsewhere, face enduring shortages of, and challenges in attracting and retaining, suitably qualified staff. The Wits Initiative for Rural Health Education (WIRHE), based at the University of the Witwatersrand but covering three universities, is a rural scholarship programme established to find local solutions to these challenges in the North West and Mpumalanga provinces. The purpose of this evaluation was to ascertain whether the WIRHE project was achieving its objectives. Methods: This article draws from an evaluation commissioned by the Swiss-South African Cooperative Initiative, a major funder of the programme when WIRHE was launched in 2003. Qualitative interviews were conducted either as face-to-face meetings or telephonically with 21 WIRHE students and graduates. Content analysis was undertaken to identify common themes. Results: There was a consistency in the findings as the students and graduates reported similar experiences. Many of the participants were overwhelmed by their initial challenges of having to adapt to a different language, an institutional culture and resources that they previously did not have access to. The participants acknowledged the role of WIRHE staff in facilitating the transition from home to university and, in particular, the value of the financial and academic support. The geographic distance to Wits presented a challenge for the Pretoria- and Sefako Makgatho-based students. The holiday work affirmed clinical advantages for WIRHE students and heightened students’ interest in becoming healthcare workers. Conclusion: WIRHE’s key success factors are the financial, academic and emotional support offered to students. WIRHE achieved its objectives based on a principled strategic approach and an understanding that students from rural backgrounds are more likely to return to rural areas. The study supports the value of structured support programmes for students of rural origin as they pursue their studies.