Evaluating the role of breastfeeding peer supporters' intervention on the inpatient management of malnourished infants under 6 months in Kenyan public hospitals
BACKGROUND: The 2013 WHO guidelines for nutritional rehabilitation of malnourished infants under six months (u6m) focus on inpatient re-establishment of exclusive breastfeeding and recommends discharge when infant is gaining weight on breastmilk alone. Guided by a breastfeeding support tool, breastfeeding peer supporters (BFPS) can support implementation of these guideline by providing continuous individualised breastfeeding counselling to mothers of malnourished infants u6m. Recording and sharing information plays an important role in shaping in-patient care but little is known about recording practices for inpatient nutrition rehabilitation of infants u6m or how such practices affect care. We set out to explore introduction of BFPS into hospitals, and how it shaped the recording and practices of care for acutely malnourished infants u6m. METHODS: We applied a descriptive, exploratory design involving a pre and during intervention audit of the infant u6m inpatient records in two hospitals in Kenya, as well as pre- and post-intervention in-depth interviews with health workers involved in the care of admitted infants u6m. We developed an audit tool and used it to extract routine data on patient information from hospital records. Data were entered into a REDCap database and analyzed using STATA 17.0 software. We conducted thirty in-depth interviews with health workers exploring their care practices and their perceived effect of the presence of the BFPS on health workers treatment practices. We analysed interview data using thematic framework approach. RESULTS: A total of 170 and 65 inpatient files were available for the audit during the pre- and post-intervention period respectively. The presence of the BFPS seemed to have encouraged the recording of (i) breastfeeding status upon admission, (ii) breastfeeding management plan and (iii) reporting of its implementation and progress during treatment. The breastfeeding peer support intervention had a positive impact on breastfeeding recording and reporting practices. Health workers reported that the BFPS facilitated the recording of observed breastfeeding data and how their records influenced final inputs of breastfeeding support provided in the inpatient file. CONCLUSIONS: Guideline implementation tools facilitate effective application of guidelines and should accompany any guideline formulation process and have their effectiveness at recording and monitoring progress evaluated.