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Outreach education for integration of HIV/AIDS care, antiretroviral treatment, and tuberculosis care in primary care clinics in South Africa: PALSA PLUS pragmatic cluster randomised trial.

Author(s): Zwarenstein M, Fairall LR, Lombard C, Mayers P, Bheekie A, English RG, Lewin S, Bachmann MO, Bateman E

Affiliation(s): Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. merrick.zwarenstein@ices.on.ca

Publication date & source: 2011-04-21, BMJ., 342:d2022.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether PALSA PLUS, an on-site educational outreach programme of non-didactic, case based, iterative clinical education of staff, led by a trainer, can increase access to and comprehensiveness of care for patients with HIV/AIDS. DESIGN: Cluster randomised trial. SETTING: Public primary care clinics offering HIV/AIDS care, antiretroviral treatment (ART), tuberculosis care, and ambulatory primary care in Free State province, South Africa. PARTICIPANTS: Fifteen clinics all implementing decentralisation and task shifting were randomised. The clinics cared for 400,000 general primary care patients and 10,136 patients in an HIV/AIDS/ART programme. There were 150 nurses. INTERVENTION: On-site outreach education in eight clinics; no such education in seven (control). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Provision of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis among patients referred to the HIV/AIDS/ART programme, and detection of cases of tuberculosis among those in the programme. Proportion of patients in the programme enrolled through general primary care consultations. RESULTS: Patients referred to the HIV/AIDS programme through general primary care at intervention clinics were more likely than those at control clinics to receive co-trimoxazole prophylaxis (41%, (2253/5523) v 32% (1340/4210); odds ratio 1.95, 95% confidence interval 1.11 to 3.40), and tuberculosis was more likely to be diagnosed among patients with HIV/AIDS/ART (7% (417/5793) v 6% (245/4343); 1.25, 1.01 to 1.55). Enrolment in the HIV/AIDS and ART programme through HIV testing in general primary care was not significantly increased (53% v 50%; 1.19, 0.51 to 2.77). Secondary outcomes were similar, except for weight gain, which was higher in the intervention group (2.3 kg v 1.9 kg, P<0.001). CONCLUSION: Though outreach education is an effective and feasible strategy for improving comprehensiveness of care and wellbeing of patients with HIV/AIDS, there is no evidence that it increases access to the ART programme. It is now being widely implemented in South Africa. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 24820584.

Page last updated: 2011-12-09

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