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Title: Pulse oximetry in low-income settings : a case study of Kenyan hospitals
Author: Enoch, Abigail J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 7232
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Pulse oximeters are low-cost, easy to use, and effective at detecting hypoxemia (low blood oxygen levels), a common complication of bronchiolitis, asthma, and pneumonia, the leading infectious cause of death in children worldwide. However, pulse oximeters are often unavailable in lowincome settings, and if available, often underused, yet little research investigates why. In this thesis, I examine pulse oximeter implementation in low-income settings, focusing on Kenyan hospitals as a case study, and using a mixed-methods approach. I conducted a systematic literature review, examining how pulse oximeter use with children at admission to hospital impacts health outcomes; I then conducted quantitative analyses of 28,000 children admitted to seven Kenyan hospitals to determine with which children pulse oximeters are used, and pulse oximetry's impact on treatment provision; these analyses informed the qualitative research component, for which I conducted interviews with 30 healthcare workers (HCWs) and staff in 14 Kenyan hospitals and employed theoretical frameworks to determine how HCWs decide whether to use pulse oximeters, and the barriers to pulse oximetry. I found that pulse oximeter use varies substantially between and within Kenyan hospitals over time. After adjusting for case-mix and signs of illness severity, HCWs were most likely to use pulse oximeters with children with a very high respiratory rate, indrawing and/or who were not alert; children who obtained a pulse oximeter reading were more likely to be prescribed oxygen than if a pulse oximeter was not used; and children with a reading below 90% were more likely to be prescribed oxygen than those with higher readings, suggesting that HCW decision-making is influenced by international and national guidelines. However, HCWs sometimes cannot use pulse oximeters when they intend to, because of insufficient pulse oximeter availability, largely due to inefficient and confusing procurement processes and repair delays. Furthermore, HCWs sometimes use pulse oximeters incorrectly or misinterpret their results, because of insufficient training. Pulse oximeter promotion programme planners can use the recommendations I provide to effectively target barriers to pulse oximeter uptake in low-income settings. Increased pulse oximetry implementation could enable early detection of hypoxemia, improving accurate diagnosis, and supporting prompt, effective treatment, which could help reduce mortality in children needing oxygen, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 3.
Supervisor: English, Mike ; Shepperd, Sasha Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Child health ; Kenya ; Public Health ; Low-income settings ; Pulse oximeters ; Child mortality ; Global Health ; Pneumonia ; Mixed-methods ; Hypoxemia ; Oxygen ; Low-cost interventions ; Diffusion of innovation ; Implementation science