Solar-powered oxygen delivery for the treatment of children with hypoxemia: protocol for a cluster-randomized stepped-wedge controlled trial in Uganda

Nicholas Conradi, Qaasim Mian, Sophie Namasopo, Andrea L. Conroy, Laura L. Hermann, Charles Olaro, Jackson Amone, Robert Opoka, Michael T. Hawkes

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Child mortality due to pneumonia is a major global health problem and is associated with hypoxemia. Access to safe and continuous oxygen therapy can reduce mortality; however, low-income countries may lack the necessary resources for oxygen delivery. We have previously demonstrated proof-of-concept that solar-powered oxygen (SPO 2) delivery can reliably provide medical oxygen remote settings with minimal access to electricity. This study aims to demonstrate the efficacy of SPO 2 in children hospitalized with acute hypoxemic respiratory illness across Uganda.

Methods:Objectives: Demonstrate efficacy of SPO 2 in children hospitalized with acute hypoxemic respiratory illness. Study design: Multi-center, stepped-wedge cluster-randomized trial. Setting: Twenty health facilities across Uganda, a low-income, high-burden country for pediatric pneumonia. Site selection: Facilities with pediatric inpatient services lacking consistent O2 supply on pediatric wards. Participants: Children aged < 5 years hospitalized with hypoxemia (saturation < 92%) warranting hospital admission based on clinical judgement.

Randomization methods: Random installation order generated a priori with allocation concealment. Study procedure: Patients receive standard of care within pediatric wards with or without SPO2 system installed.

Outcome measures: Primary: 48-h mortality. Secondary: safety, efficacy, SPO 2 system functionality, operating costs, nursing knowledge, skills, and retention for oxygen administration. Statistical analysis of primary outcome: Linear mixed effects logistic regression model with 48-h mortality (dependent variable) as a function of SPO 2 treatment (before versus after installation), while adjusting for confounding effects of calendar time (fixed effect) and site (random effect). Sample size: 2400 patients across 20 health facilities, predicted to provide 80% power to detect a 35% reduction in mortality after introduction of SPO 2, based on a computer simulation of > 5000 trials.

Discussion: Overall, our study aims to demonstrate mortality benefit of SPO 2 relative to standard (unreliable) oxygen delivery. The innovative trial design (stepped-wedge, cluster-randomized) is supported by a computer simulation. Capacity building for nursing care and oxygen therapy is a non-scientific objective of the study. If successful, SPO 2 could be scaled across a variety of resource-constrained remote or rural settings in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalPaediatrics and Child Health, East Africa
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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