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      Health care prioritization process for the elderly in rural Tanzania under decentralized system: Prospects and challenges


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          Beginning the early 1990s, many countries globally adopted the third-generation health sector reforms with a focus of strengthening the primary health care system through community participation. On the contrary, three decades later, primary health care systems in many Low- and Middle-Income countries (LMICs) including Tanzania have remained weak. Specifically, priority setting for the vulnerable groups including the elderly have been weak. We aimed to analyse the prospects and challenges of the priority setting process for the elderly health care services following the 1990s health sector reforms in Tanzania.


          We conducted an exploratory case study on priority setting process for the elderly healthcare services in Igunga and Nzega Tanzania. We carried out 24 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with the positions of District medical officers, social welfare, Medical Officers in-charge (MOI), planning officers and health system information focal person. Additionally, we carried out two focus group discussions (FGDs), one from each district with six participants from each group. Participants for the FGDs were MOI, health secretary, representative members of Health Facility Governing Committee (HFGC) and Council Health Management Team (CHMT). Data were analyzed using the qualitative content analysis.


          Two categories emerged from the analysis of the transcripts. These were the prospects and challenges in priority setting for the elderly population under the decentralized health sector in rural Tanzania. The prospects included; the capacity of the LGAs on priority setting; existence of strategies used by LGAs; availability of teamwork spirit and the existence of guidelines for priority setting at LGAs. The challenges included difficulties of elderly identification, insufficient resources to implement the planned activities at the LGAs, unintegrated digitalized government health information tools or programs at the LGAs, interference of LGAs by the Central Government and low interest of stakeholders on elderly health care.


          This study highlights the prospects and challenges facing priority setting for elderly care at the centralized health system in rural Tanzania. From the results the process is well organized but faces some challenges which if not addressed jeopardized and has potential to continue affecting the priority setting. Addressing the challenges highlighted requires joint efforts from both the elderly population in the community, healthcare providers and decision makers across all levels of the health system. This study serves as an eye-opener and calls for a bigger study to get a comprehensive picture of priority setting of the elderly health care in Tanzania.

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          Three approaches to qualitative content analysis.

          Content analysis is a widely used qualitative research technique. Rather than being a single method, current applications of content analysis show three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, or summative. All three approaches are used to interpret meaning from the content of text data and, hence, adhere to the naturalistic paradigm. The major differences among the approaches are coding schemes, origins of codes, and threats to trustworthiness. In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context. The authors delineate analytic procedures specific to each approach and techniques addressing trustworthiness with hypothetical examples drawn from the area of end-of-life care.
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            Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness.

            Qualitative content analysis as described in published literature shows conflicting opinions and unsolved issues regarding meaning and use of concepts, procedures and interpretation. This paper provides an overview of important concepts (manifest and latent content, unit of analysis, meaning unit, condensation, abstraction, content area, code, category and theme) related to qualitative content analysis; illustrates the use of concepts related to the research procedure; and proposes measures to achieve trustworthiness (credibility, dependability and transferability) throughout the steps of the research procedure. Interpretation in qualitative content analysis is discussed in light of Watzlawick et al.'s [Pragmatics of Human Communication. A Study of Interactional Patterns, Pathologies and Paradoxes. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, London] theory of communication.
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              Is Open Access

              Unwanted incidents during transition of geriatric patients from hospital to home: a prospective observational study

              Background Geriatric patients recently discharged from hospital experience increased chance of unplanned readmissions and admission to nursing homes. Several studies have shown that medication-related discrepancies are common. Few studies report unwanted incidents by other factors than medications. In 2002 an ambulatory team (AT) was established within the Department of Geriatrics, St. Olavs University Hospital HF, Trondheim, Norway. The AT monitored the transition of the patients from hospital to home and four weeks after discharge in order to reveal unwanted incidents. The aim of the present study was to describe unwanted incidents registered by the AT among patients discharged from a geriatric evaluation and management unit (GEMU) by character, frequency and stage in the transitional process. Only unwanted incidents with a severity making contact with the primary health care (PHC) necessary were registered. Methods A prospective observational study with patients treated in the GEMU and followed by the AT was performed. Current practice included comprehensive geriatric assessment and management including discharge planning in the GEMU and collaboration with the primary health care on appointments on assistance to be provided after discharge from hospital. Unwanted incidents severe enough to induce contact with the primary health care were registered during the transitional phase and after discharge. Results 118 patients (65% female), with mean age 83.2 ± 6.4 years participated. Median Barthel Index at discharge was 18 (interquartile range 16-19) and median Mini Mental Status Examination 24 (interquartile range 21-26). A total of 146 unwanted incidents were registered in 70 (59%) of the patients. Most frequent were unwanted incidents related to drug prescription regime (32%), exchange of information in and between the GEMU and the primary health care (25%) and service or help provided from the PHC (17%). Conclusions Despite a seemingly well-organised system for transition of patients from the GEMU to their homes, one or more unwanted incidents occurred in most patients during discharge or four weeks post discharge. The study has revealed areas of importance for improving transitional care of geriatric patients.

                Author and article information

                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: Funding acquisitionRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: ResourcesRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Formal analysisRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Formal analysisRole: MethodologyRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Formal analysisRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS One
                PLOS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                10 June 2024
                : 19
                : 6
                : e0304243
                [001] Department of Development Studies, School of Public Health and Social Sciences, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
                Higher Education Partnership / Erasmus University Rotterdam, ETHIOPIA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist

                Author information
                © 2024 Tungu et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 15 December 2022
                : 8 May 2024
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Pages: 14
                Funded by: SIDA
                This study funded by SIDA through MUHAS-UMEA Universities under the Health System Research Subprogram 2015–2020. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. In addition, there was no author of this article received a salary from the funder.
                Research Article
                Medicine and Health Sciences
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                Geriatric Care
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