PLOS Medicine

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ISSN / EISSN : 15491277 / 15491676
Current Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 3,903
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Ashish Kc, Uwe Ewald, Omkar Basnet, Abhishek Gurung, Sushil Nath Pyakuryal, Bijay Kumar Jha, Anna Bergström, Leif Eriksson, Prajwal Paudel, Sushil Karki, et al.
Published: 9 September 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002900

Abstract:Improving quality of intrapartum care will reduce intrapartum stillbirth and neonatal mortality, especially in resource-poor settings. Basic neonatal resuscitation can reduce intrapartum stillbirth and early neonatal mortality, if delivered in a high-quality health system, but there is a dearth of evidence on how to scale up such evidence-based interventions. We evaluated the scaling up of a quality improvement (QI) package for neonatal resuscitation on intrapartum-related mortality (intrapartum stillbirth and first day mortality) at hospitals in Nepal. We conducted a stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial in 12 hospitals over a period of 18 months from April 14, 2017, to October 17, 2018. The hospitals were assigned to one of four wedges through random allocation. The QI package was implemented in a stepped-wedge manner with a delay of three months for each step. The QI package included improving hospital leadership on intrapartum care, building health workers’ competency on neonatal resuscitation, and continuous facilitated QI processes in clinical units. An independent data collection system was set up at each hospital to gather data on mortality through patient case note review and demographic characteristics of women using semi-structured exit interviews. The generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) and multivariate logistic regression were used for analyses. During this study period, a total of 89,014 women–infant pairs were enrolled. The mean age of the mother in the study period was 24.0 ± 4.3 years, with 54.9% from disadvantaged ethnic groups and 4.0% of them illiterate. Of the total birth cohort, 54.4% were boys, 16.7% had gestational age less than 37 weeks, and 17.1% had birth weight less than 2,500 grams. The incidence of intrapartum-related mortality was 11.0 per 1,000 births during the control period and 8.0 per 1,000 births during the intervention period (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.79; 95% CI, 0.69–0.92; p = 0.002; intra-cluster correlation coefficient [ICC], 0.0286). The incidence of early neonatal mortality was 12.7 per 1,000 live births during the control period and 10.1 per 1,000 live births during the intervention period (aOR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.78–1.02; p = 0.09; ICC, 0.1538). The use of bag-and-mask ventilation for babies with low Apgar score (<7 at 1 minute) increased from 3.2% in the control period to 4.0% in the intervention period (aOR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.32–1.77, p = 0.003). There were two major limitations to the study; although a large sample of women–infant pairs were enrolled in the study, the clustering reduced the power of the study. Secondly, the study was not sufficiently powered to detect reduction in early neonatal mortality with the number of clusters provided. These results suggest scaled-up implementation of a QI package for neonatal resuscitation can reduce intrapartum-related mortality and improve clinical care. The QI intervention package is likely to be effective in similar...
Ben Darlow, James Stanley, Sarah Dean, J. Haxby Abbott, Sue Garrett, Ross Wilson, Fiona Mathieson, Anthony Dowell
Published: 9 September 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002897

Abstract:Effective and cost-effective primary care treatments for low back pain (LBP) are required to reduce the burden of the world’s most disabling condition. This study aimed to compare the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Fear Reduction Exercised Early (FREE) approach to LBP (intervention) with usual general practitioner (GP) care (control). This pragmatic, cluster-randomised controlled trial with process evaluation and parallel economic evaluation was conducted in the Hutt Valley, New Zealand. Eight general practices were randomly assigned (stratified by practice size) with a 1:1 ratio to intervention (4 practices; 34 GPs) or control group (4 practices; 29 GPs). Adults presenting to these GPs with LBP as their primary complaint were recruited. GPs in the intervention practices were trained in the FREE approach, and patients presenting to these practices received care based on the FREE approach. The FREE approach restructures LBP consultations to prioritise early identification and management of barriers to recovery. GPs in control practices did not receive specific training for this study, and patients presenting to these practices received usual care. Between 23 September 2016 and 31 July 2017, 140 eligible patients presented to intervention practices (126 enrolled) and 110 eligible patients presented to control practices (100 enrolled). Patient mean age was 46.1 years (SD 14.4), and 46% were female. The duration of LBP was less than 6 weeks in 88% of patients. Primary outcome was change from baseline in patient participant Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) score at 6 months. Secondary patient outcomes included pain, satisfaction, and psychosocial indices. GP outcomes included attitudes, knowledge, confidence, and GP LBP management behaviour. There was active and passive surveillance of potential harms. Patients and outcome assessors were blind to group assignment. Analysis followed intention-to-treat principles. A total of 122 (97%) patients from 32 GPs in the intervention group and 99 (99%) patients from 25 GPs in the control group were included in the primary outcome analysis. At 6 months, the groups did not significantly differ on the primary outcome (adjusted mean RMDQ score difference 0.57, 95% CI −0.64 to 1.78; p = 0.354) or secondary patient outcomes. The RMDQ difference met the predefined criterion to indicate noninferiority. One control group participant experienced an activity-related gluteal tear, with no other adverse events recorded. Intervention group GPs had improvements in attitudes, knowledge, and confidence compared with control group GPs. Intervention group GP LBP management behaviour became more guideline concordant than the control group. In cost-effectiveness, the intervention dominated control with lower costs and higher Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) gains. Limitations of this study were that although adequately powered for primary outcome assessment, the study was not powered for...
Tawanda Chivese, Shane A. Norris, Naomi S. Levitt
Published: 9 September 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002865

Abstract:Global data indicate that women with a history of hyperglycemia first detected in pregnancy (HFDP) are at up to 7 times risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) compared with their counterparts who have pregnancies that are not complicated by hyperglycemia. However, there are no data from the sub-Saharan African region, which has the highest projected rise in diabetes prevalence globally. The aim of this study was to determine the proportion of women who progress to T2DM and associated risk factors 5 to 6 years after HFDP in Cape Town, South Africa. All women with HFDP, at a major referral hospital in Cape Town, were followed up 5 to 6 years later using a cross-sectional study. Each participant had a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test; anthropometric measurements and a survey were administered. A total of 220 participants were followed up. At this time, their mean age was 37.2 years (SD 6.0). Forty-eight percent (95% CI 41.2–54.4) progressed to T2DM, 5.5% (95% CI 3.1–9.4) had impaired fasting glucose, and 10.5% (95% CI 7.0–15.3) had impaired glucose tolerance. Of the participants who progressed to T2DM, 47% were unaware of their diabetes status. When HFDP was categorized post hoc according to WHO 2013 guidelines, progression in the diabetes in pregnancy (DIP) group was 81% (95% CI 70.2–89.0) and 31.3% (95% CI 24.4–39.3) in the gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) category. Factors associated with risk of progression to T2DM were; at follow-up: waist circumference (odds ratios [OR] 1.1, 95% CI 1.0–1.1, p = 0.007), hip circumference (OR 0.9, 95% CI 0.8–1.0, p = 0.001), and BMI (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.0–1.3, p = 0.001), and at baseline: insulin (OR 25.8, 95% CI 3.9–171.4, p = 0.001) and oral hypoglycaemic treatment during HFDP (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.3–12.9, p = 0.018), fasting (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.5–4.8, p = 0.001), and oral glucose tolerance test 2-hour glucose concentration at HFDP diagnosis (OR 4.3, 95% CI 2.4–7.7, p < 0.001). Our findings have limitations in that we did not include a control group of women without a history of HFDP. The progression to T2DM in women with previous HFDP found in this study highlights the need for interventions to delay or prevent progression to T2DM after HFDP. In addition, interventions to prevent HFDP may also contribute to reducing the risk of T2DM.
Christian Lienhardt, Andrew A. Vernon, Marco Cavaleri, Sumati Nambiar, Payam Nahid
Published: 6 September 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002915

Abstract:Christian Lienhardt and colleagues discuss the importance of communication and coordination between regulators, researchers, and policy makers to ensure tuberculosis trials provide high-quality evidence for policy decisions.
Ruth F. Hunter, Kayla De La Haye, Jennifer M. Murray, Jennifer Badham, Thomas W. Valente, Mike Clarke, Frank Kee
Published: 3 September 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002890

Abstract:There has been a growing interest in understanding the effects of social networks on health-related behaviour, with a particular backdrop being the emerging prominence of complexity or systems science in public health. Social network interventions specifically use or alter the characteristics of social networks to generate, accelerate, or maintain health behaviours. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate health behaviour outcomes of social network interventions. We searched eight databases and two trial registries from 1990 to May 28, 2019, for English-language reports of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and before-and-after studies investigating social network interventions for health behaviours and outcomes. Trials that did not specifically use social networks or that did not include a comparator group were excluded. We screened studies and extracted data from published reports independently. The primary outcome of health behaviours or outcomes at ≤6 months was assessed by random-effects meta-analysis. Secondary outcomes included those measures at >6–12 months and >12 months. This study is registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews, PROSPERO: CRD42015023541. We identified 26,503 reports; after exclusion, 37 studies, conducted between 1996 and 2018 from 11 countries, were eligible for analysis, with a total of 53,891 participants (mean age 32.4 years [SD 12.7]; 45.5% females). A range of study designs were included: 27 used RCT/cluster RCT designs, and 10 used other study designs. Eligible studies addressed a variety of health outcomes, in particular sexual health and substance use. Social network interventions showed a significant intervention effect compared with comparator groups for sexual health outcomes. The pooled odds ratio (OR) was 1.46 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–2.11; I2 = 76%) for sexual health outcomes at ≤6 months and OR 1.51 (95% CI 1.27–1.81; I2 = 40%) for sexual health outcomes at >6–12 months. Intervention effects for drug risk outcomes at each time point were not significant. There were also significant intervention effects for some other health outcomes including alcohol misuse, well-being, change in haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and smoking cessation. Because of clinical and measurement heterogeneity, it was not appropriate to pool data on these other behaviours in a meta-analysis. For sexual health outcomes, prespecified subgroup analyses were significant for intervention approach (p < 0.001), mean age of participants (p = 0.002), and intervention length (p = 0.05). Overall, 22 of the 37 studies demonstrated a high risk of bias, as measured by the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. The main study limitations identified were the inclusion of studies of variable quality; difficulty in isolating the effects of specific social network intervention components on health outcomes, as interventions included other active components; and reliance on...
Kenneth K. Mugwanya, Jillian Pintye, John Kinuthia, Felix Abuna, Harrison Lagat, Emily R. Begnel, Julia C. Dettinger, Grace John-Stewart, Jared M. Baeten, for the PrEP Implementation for Young Women and Adolescents (PrIYA) Program
Published: 3 September 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002885

Abstract:Young women account for a disproportionate fraction of new HIV infections in Africa and are a priority population for HIV prevention, including implementation of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The overarching goal of this project was to demonstrate the feasibility of integrating PrEP delivery within routine family planning (FP) clinics to serve as a platform to efficiently reach at-risk adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) for PrEP in HIV high-burden settings. The PrEP Implementation in Young Women and Adolescents (PrIYA) program is a real-world implementation program to demonstrate integration of PrEP delivery for at-risk AGYW in FP clinics in Kisumu, Kenya. Between November 2017 and June 2018, women aged 15 to 45 from the general population seeking FP services at 8 public health clinics were universally screened for HIV behavioral risk factors and offered PrEP following national PrEP guidelines. We evaluated PrEP uptake and continuation, and robust Poisson regression methods were used to identify correlates of uptake and early continuation of PrEP, with age included as a one-knot linear spline. Overall, 1,271 HIV-uninfected women accessing routine FP clinics were screened for PrEP; the median age was 25 years (interquartile range [IQR]: 22–29), 627 (49%) were <24 years old, 1,026 (82%) were married, more than one-third (34%) had partners of unknown HIV status, and the vast majority (n = 1,200 [94%]) reported recent condom-less sex. Of 1,271 women screened, 278 (22%) initiated PrEP, and 114 (41%) returned for at least one refill visit after initiation. PrEP uptake was independently associated with reported male-partner HIV status (HIV-positive 94%, unknown 35%, HIV-negative 8%; p < 0.001) and marital status (28% unmarried versus married 21%; p = 0.04), and a higher proportion of women ≥24 years (26%; 191/740) initiated PrEP compared to 16% (87/531) of young women <24 years (p < 0.001). There was a moderate and statistically non-significant unadjusted increase in PrEP uptake among women using oral contraception pills (OCPs) compared to women using injectable or long-acting reversible contraception methods (OCP 28% versus injectable/implants/intrauterine devices [IUDs] 18%; p = 0.06). Among women with at least one post-PrEP initiation follow-up visit (n = 278), no HIV infection was documented during the project period. Overall, continuation of PrEP use at 1, 3, and 6 months post initiation was 41%, 24%, and 15%, respectively. The likelihood for early continuation of PrEP use (i.e., return for at least one PrEP refill within 45 days post initiation) was strongly associated with reported male-partner HIV status (HIV-positive 67%, -negative 39%, unknown 31%; overall effect p = 0.001), and a higher proportion of women ≥24 years old continued PrEP at 1 month compared with young women <24 years old (47% versus 29%; p = 0.002). For women ≥24 years old, the likelihood to continue PrEP use at 1 month post initiation increased by 3% for...
Izukanji Sikazwe, Ingrid Eshun-Wilson, Kombatende Sikombe, Nancy Czaicki, Paul Somwe, Aaloke Mody, Sandra Simbeza, David V. Glidden, Elizabeth Chizema, Lloyd B. Mulenga, et al.
Published: 30 August 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002918

The PLOS Medicine Staff
Published: 30 August 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002925

Shahreen Raihana, Michael J. Dibley, Mohammad Masudur Rahman, Tazeen Tahsina, Md. Abu Bakkar Siddique, Qazi Sadequr Rahman, Sajia Islam, Ashraful Alam, Patrick J. Kelly, Shams El Arifeen, et al.
Published: 30 August 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002904

Abstract:In Bangladesh, neonatal sepsis is the cause of 24% of neonatal deaths, over 65% of which occur in the early-newborn stage (0–6 days). Only 50% of newborns in Bangladesh initiated breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth. The mechanism by which early initiation of breastfeeding reduces neonatal deaths is unclear, although the most likely pathway is by decreasing severe illnesses leading to sepsis. This study explores the effect of breastfeeding initiation time on early newborn danger signs and severe illness. We used data from a community-based trial in Bangladesh in which we enrolled pregnant women from 2013 through 2015 covering 30,646 newborns. Severe illness was defined using newborn danger signs reported by The Young Infants Clinical Science Study Group. We categorized the timing of initiation as within 1 hour, 1 to 24 hours, 24 to 48 hours, ≥48 hours of birth, and never breastfed. The analysis includes descriptive statistics, risk attribution, and multivariable mixed-effects logistic regression while adjusting for the clustering effects of the trial design, and maternal/infant characteristics. In total, 29,873 live births had information on breastfeeding among whom 19,914 (66.7%) initiated within 1 hour of birth, and 4,437 (14.8%) neonates had a severe illness by the seventh day after birth. The mean time to initiation was 3.8 hours (SD 16.6 hours). The proportion of children with severe illness increased as the delay in initiation increased from 1 hour (12.0%), 24 hours (15.7%), 48 hours (27.7%), and more than 48 hours (36.7%) after birth. These observations would correspond to a possible reduction by 15.9% (95% CI 13.2–25.9, p < 0.001) of severe illness in a real world population in which all newborns had breastfeeding initiated within 1 hour of birth. Children who initiated after 48 hours (odds ratio [OR] 4.13, 95% CI 3.48–4.89, p < 0.001) and children who never initiated (OR 4.77, 95% CI 3.52–6.47, p < 0.001) had the highest odds of having severe illness. The main limitation of this study is the potential for misclassification because of using mothers’ report of newborn danger signs. There could be a potential for recall bias for mothers of newborns who died after being born alive. Breastfeeding initiation within the first hour of birth is significantly associated with severe illness in the early newborn period. Interventions to promote early breastfeeding initiation should be tailored for populations in which newborns are delivered at home by unskilled attendants, the rate of low birth weight (LBW) is high, and postnatal care is limited. Trial Registration number: anzctr.org.au ID ACTRN12612000588897.
Lieven Huybregts, Agnes Le Port, Elodie Becquey, Amanda Zongrone, Francisco M. Barba, Rahul Rawat, Jef L. Leroy, Marie T. Ruel
Published: 27 August 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002892

Abstract:Community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) has been widely adopted to treat childhood acute malnutrition (AM), but its effectiveness in program settings is often limited by implementation constraints, low screening coverage, and poor treatment uptake and adherence. This study addresses the problem of low screening coverage by testing the impact of distributing small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNSs) at monthly screenings held by community health volunteers (CHVs). Screening sessions included behavior change communication (BCC) on nutrition, health, and hygiene practices (both study arms) and SQ-LNSs (one study arm). Impact was assessed on AM screening and treatment coverage and on AM incidence and prevalence. A two-arm cluster-randomized controlled trial in 48 health center catchment areas in the Bla and San health districts in Mali was conducted from February 2015 to April 2017. In both arms, CHVs led monthly AM screenings in children 6–23 months of age and provided BCC to caregivers. The intervention arm also received a monthly supply of SQ-LNSs to stimulate caregivers’ participation and supplement children’s diet. We used two study designs: i) a repeated cross-sectional study (n = approximately 2,300) with baseline and endline surveys to examine impacts on AM screening and treatment coverage and prevalence (primary study outcomes) and ii) a longitudinal study of children enrolled at 6 months of age (n = 1,132) and followed monthly for 18 months to assess impact on AM screening and treatment coverage and incidence (primary study outcomes). All analyses were done by intent to treat. The intervention significantly increased AM screening coverage (cross-sectional study: +40 percentage points [pp], 95% confidence interval [CI]: 32, 49, p < 0.001; longitudinal study: +28 pp, 95% CI: 23, 33, p < 0.001). No impact on treatment coverage or AM prevalence was found. Children in the intervention arm, however, were 29% (95% CI: 8, 46; p = 0.017) less likely to develop a first AM episode (incidence) and, compared to children in comparison arm, their overall risk of AM (longitudinal prevalence) was 30% (95% CI: 12, 44; p = 0.002) lower. The intervention lowered CMAM enrollment by 10 pp (95% CI: 1.9, 18; p = 0.016), an unintended negative impact likely due to CHVs handing out preventive SQ-LNSs to caregivers of AM children instead of referring them to the CMAM program. Study limitations were i) the referral of AM cases by our research team (for ethical reasons) during monthly measurements in the longitudinal study might have interfered with usual CMAM activities and ii) the outcomes presented by child age also reflect seasonal variations because of the closed cohort design. Incorporating SQ-LNSs into monthly community-level AM screenings and BCC sessions was highly effective at improving screening coverage and reducing AM incidence, but it did not improve AM prevalence or treatment coverage. Future evaluation and...