Stakeholder perceptions on patient-centered care at primary health care level in rural eastern Uganda: a qualitative inquiry

Everlyn Waweru, Nandini Sarkar, Freddie Ssengooba, Marc-Eric Gruénais, Jacqueline Broerse, Bart Criel

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Background: Patient-centered care (PCC) offers opportunities for African health systems to improve quality of care. Nonetheless, PCC continually faces implementation challenges. In 2015, Uganda introduced PCC as a concept in their national quality improvement guidelines. In order to investigate whether and how this is implemented in practice, this study aims to identify relevant stakeholders' views on the current quality of primary health care services and their understanding of PCC. This is an important step in understanding how the concept of PCC can be implemented in a resource constrained, sub-Saharan context like Uganda.

Methods: This qualitative study was conducted in Uganda at national, district and facility level, with a focus on three public and three private health centres. Data collection consisted of in-depth interviews (n = 49); focus group discussions (n = 7); and feedback meetings (n = 14) across the four main categories of stakeholders identified: patients/communities, health workers, policy makers and academia. Interviews and discussions explored stakeholder perceptions on the interpersonal aspects of quality primary health care and meanings attached to the concept of PCC. A content analysis of Ugandan policy documents mentioning PCC was also conducted. Thematic content analysis was conducted using NVivo 11 to organize and analyze the data.

Findings and conclusion: While Ugandan stakeholder groups have varying perceptions of PCC, they agree on the following: the need to involve patients in making decisions about their health, the key role of healthcare workers in that endeavor, and the importance of context in designing and implementing solutions. For that purpose, three avenues are recommended: Firstly, fora that include a wide range of stakeholders may offer a powerful opportunity to gain an inclusive vision on PCC in Uganda. Secondly, efforts need to be made to ensure that improved communication and information sharing-important components of PCC-translate to actual shared decision making. Lastly, the Ugandan health system needs to strengthen its engagement of the transformation from a community health worker system to a more comprehensive community health system. Cross-cutting the entire analysis, is the need to address, in a culturally-sensitive way, the many structural barriers in designing and implementing PCC policies. This is essential in ensuring the sustainable and effective implementation of PCC approaches in low-and middle-income contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0221649
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2019




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