Improving inpatient medication adherence using attendant education in a tertiary care hospital in Uganda

Patricia Alupo, Richard Ssekitoleko, Tracy Rabin, Robert Kalyesubula, Ivan Kimuli, Benjamin E. Bodnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Quality problem: Although widely utilized in resource-rich health care systems, the use of quality improvement (QI) techniques is less common in resource-limited environments. Uganda is a resource-limited country in Sub-Saharan Africa that faces many challenges with health care delivery. These challenges include understaffing, inconsistent drug availability and inefficient systems that limit the provision of clinical care. Initial assessment: Poor adherence to prescribed inpatient medications was identified as a key shortcoming of clinical care on the internal medicine wards of Mulago National Referral Hospital, Kampala, Uganda. Baseline data collection revealed a pre-intervention median inpatient medication adherence rate of 46.5% on the study ward. Deficiencies were also identified in attendant (lay caretaker) education, and prescriber and pharmacy metrics. Choice of solution: A QI team led by a resident doctor and consisting of a QI nurse, a pharmacist and a ward nurse supervisor used standard QI techniques to address this issue. Implementation: Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle interventions focused on attendant involvement and education, physician prescription practices and improving pharmacy communication with clinicians and attendants. Evaluation: Significant improvements were seen with an increase in overall medication adherence from a pre-intervention baseline median of 46.5% to a post-intervention median of 92%. Attendant education proved to be the most effective intervention, though resource and staffing limitations made institutionalization of these changes difficult. Lessons learned: QI methods may be the way forward for optimizing health care delivery in resource-limited settings like Uganda. Institutionalization of these methods remains a challenge due to shortage of staff and other resource limitations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-592
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Human resources
  • Leadership
  • Quality improvement
  • Quality management
  • Training/education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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