An iceberg I can’t handle: a qualitative inquiry on perceptions towards paediatric rheumatology among healthcare workers in Kenya

Angela Migowa, Sasha Bernatsky, Anthony Ngugi, Helen E. Foster, Peter Muriuki, Adelaide Lusambili, Stanley Luchters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Delay in diagnosis and access to specialist care is a major problem for many children and young people with rheumatic disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Most children with symptoms of rheumatic disease present to non-specialists for care. There is an urgent need to understand and scale-up paediatric rheumatology knowledge and skills amongst non-specialist healthcare workers to promote early diagnosis, prompt referral, and management. Purpose: We evaluated the knowledge, attitudes and practices towards diagnosis and care of paediatric rheumatology patients among health care workers in Kenya. Methods: We conducted 12 focus group discussions with clinical officers (third-tier community health workers) nurses, general practitioners and paediatricians across 6 regions in Kenya. Interviews were conducted on zoom, audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using NVIVO software. Results: A total of 68 individuals participated; 11 clinical officers, 12 nurses, 10 general practitioners, 27 paediatricians and 7 others. Most (n = 53) were female, and the median age was 36 years (range 31–40 years). Fifty per cent of the participants (34 of 68) worked in public health facilities. Our study revealed gaps in knowledge of paediatric rheumatology amongst healthcare workers which contributes to delayed diagnosis and poor management. Healthcare workers reported both positive and negative attitudes towards diagnosis and care of paediatric rheumatology patients. Perceived complexity and lack of knowledge in diagnosis, management and lack of health system clinical pathways made all cadres of healthcare workers feel helpless, frustrated, inadequate and incompetent to manage paediatric rheumatology patients. Positive attitudes arose from a perceived feeling that paediatric rheumatology patients pose unique challenges and learning opportunities. Conclusion: There is an urgent need to educate healthcare workers and improve health systems to optimize clinical care for paediatric rheumatology patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalPediatric Rheumatology
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • Health care workers
  • Kenya
  • Knowledge
  • Paediatric rheumatology
  • Practices
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

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