School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa
Background: Although antiretroviral treatment is expanding in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization advocates for integration of palliative care with HAART because pain, other distressing symptoms and complex psychosocial challenges persist throughout the HIV trajectory. Palliative care improves the outcome for patients with HIV and may complement antiretroviral treatment by increasing adherence through better management of side effects from the treatment, providing patient and family-centred holistic care, and giving end-of-life care when necessary. However, integrating what have become two disciplines is challenging. Aim: To study the implications for palliative care provision in the context of changing policy to universal access to HAART for people living with advanced AIDS (PLWA) in Uganda. Research questions addressed in the study included: 1. How do patients with advanced AIDS (stage 1Il and IV) and with palliative care needs and their families experience care delivery and receipt over a period of 8 weeks? 2. How is the morphine roll-out programme among advanced AIDS patients operationalized in Uganda? 3. What are the challenges faced by health care workers involved in delivery and implementation of integrated palliative care for patients with advanced AIDS? 4. What are the views of key opinion leaders on development of palliative care policies in Uganda? Methods: A mixed methods approach was employed. The study comprised of three phases. In phase one, a consecutive sample of 30 newly enrolled patients advanced AIDS (stage III & IV) and their carers were recruited at Hospice Africa Uganda and followed up for 8 weeks. Qualitative interviews were conducted with patients and their carers at one time point and an outcome measure using African Palliative Care Association-Palliative Outcome Scale (APeA-POS) was used to assess changes in their experiences over 8 weeks, following access to palliative care. In phase two, 10 palliative care staff members participated in individual interviews and one focus group to explore the challenges they faced in delivering services to patients. Phase three explored, by the use of interviews with 7 key stakeholders, the broader context of palliative care policy development and opinions about key priorities for the future. Findings: Out of 30 patients, 14 were male and 16 were female. They ranged in age from 18-60 years. The majority of patients were bed-ridden and experienced distressing symptoms related to advanced AIDS and AIDS-defining cancers which necessitated timely palliative care intervention. The key findings of the study relate to the range of physical symptoms experienced by patients and the psychosocial challenges of disclosure and stigma encountered by patients and their families against u backdrop of profound poverty. Palliative care staff indicated two categories which broadly covered the challenges of palliative care delivery to PLWA in Uganda: service-linked and provider-linked challenges. Palliative health care staff and key stakeholders identified strategies to respond to palliative care needs for PL W A across four dimensions: a) partnerships or networking together with stakeholders; b) improving palliative care education; c) raising awareness of palliative care among communities and health care workers; d) advocacy and policies which support and strengthen initiation and expansion of palliative care services to PL W A, including the availability of morphine. Conclusion: The study shows the paramount importance of drawing on patients' and carers' experiences and concerns to shape models of African palliative care. Both palliative care staff and key informants' perspectives highlight successes, barriers and important lessons for palliative care service delivery in Uganda. These lessons have several implications across the dimensions of practice, education, policy and research. Palliative care staff need to work with several key players or stakeholders to address the many psychosocial issues affecting PL W A including support during treatment. The study indicates the need to translate government policies on palliative care into action. - See more at: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.555603#sthash.xCqlrNoD.dpuf
(2011). Palliative care for people living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda: an investigation of patients & caregiver’s outcome and professional perspectives.
Available at: http://ecommons.aku.edu/eastafrica_fhs_sonam/16
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