Interventions co-designed by healthcare providers and clients for improving therapeutic relationships in maternal and child healthcare: a pilot study using human centered design in rural Tanzania

Kahabi Isangula, Eunice S. Pallangyo, Eunice Ndirangu-Mugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Research shows that poor provider–client interactions in maternity and child health (MCH) continue to affect health outcomes, service uptake, continuity of care, and trust in formal healthcare systems. Objective: The study’s objective was to jointly create a prototype intervention package for enhancing nurse-client relationships using human centered design (HCD) approach. Methods: A five-step HCD methodology was used: (1) Community-driven discovery through qualitative descriptive research methods using 9 focus groups with nurses and clients and 12 key informant interviews with MCH administrators; (2) consultative ideation and co-creation meetings with 10 nurses, 10 clients, and 10 administrators to co-design a rough prototype model; (3) rough prototype validation through qualitative insight gathering using 6 FGDs with nurses and clients; (4) refinement and adaptation meetings with 14 nurses, 14 clients and 12 administrators; and (5) documentation and sharing of lessons learnt. Results: According to the community-driven research, poor service, a lack of concern, poor communication, a bad attitude, and unhappiness at work are the nurse factors that affect the relationships between nurses and their patients. Non-compliance with procedures, unfavorable attitudes, poor communication, low education, poverty, and faith in conventional healers were among the client-related factors. Inadequate funding, bad management techniques, improper policy execution, and a lack of an independent institution for handling complaints are the health system factors that affect nurse-client relationships. In response, three ideation and co-creating meetings resulted in 24 interventions. Seven (7) of these were rated as more acceptable and feasible in the local context and formed a rough prototype. During validation, there were some disagreements on the feasibility of curriculum and resource-related interventions. Refinement meetings resulted in a final prototype including four interventions: (i) promotion of patient-centred care; (ii) awards and recognition for nurses; (iii) strengthening complaints mechanisms and (iv) disciplinary measures for abusive nurses and clients. The lessons learnt have been shared through publications and institutional research meetings. Conclusions: HCD approach provides a novel entry point for providers and clients to examine the problems and design interventions for strengthening their therapeutic relationships in MCH care. Researchers, practitioners, and policy developers are welcome to consider the emerging prototype as it was deemed acceptable and potentially feasible in rural African contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number314
JournalBMC Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Africa
  • Human-centred design
  • Nurse-client relationship
  • Patient-provider relationship
  • Rural
  • Tanzania


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