Implementing integrated care clinics for HIV-infection, diabetes and hypertension in Uganda (INTE-AFRICA): Process evaluation of a cluster randomised controlled trial

Marie Claire Van Hout, Flavia Zalwango, Mathias Akugizibwe, Moreen Namulundu Chaka, Josephine Birungi, Joseph Okebe, Shabbar Jaffar, Max Bachmann, Jamie Murdoch

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Background: Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a dual burden of chronic human immunodeficiency virus and non-communicable diseases. A pragmatic parallel arm cluster randomised trial (INTE-AFRICA) scaled up ‘one-stop’ integrated care clinics for HIV-infection, diabetes and hypertension at selected facilities in Uganda. These clinics operated integrated health education and concurrent management of HIV, hypertension and diabetes. A process evaluation (PE) aimed to explore the experiences, attitudes and practices of a wide variety of stakeholders during implementation and to develop an understanding of the impact of broader structural and contextual factors on the process of service integration.

Methods: The PE was conducted in one integrated care clinic, and consisted of 48 in-depth interviews with stakeholders (patients, healthcare providers, policy-makers, international organisation, and clinical researchers); three focus group discussions with community leaders and members (n = 15); and 8 h of clinic-based observation. An inductive analytical approach collected and analysed the data using the Empirical Phenomenological Psychological five-step method. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological framework was subsequently used to conceptualise integrated care across multiple contextual levels (macro, meso, micro).

Results: Four main themes emerged; Implementing the integrated care model within healthcare facilities enhances detection of NCDs and comprehensive co-morbid care; Challenges of NCD drug supply chains; HIV stigma reduction over time, and Health education talks as a mechanism for change. Positive aspects of integrated care centred on the avoidance of duplication of care processes; increased capacity for screening, diagnosis and treatment of previously undiagnosed comorbid conditions; and broadening of skills of health workers to manage multiple conditions. Patients were motivated to continue receiving integrated care, despite frequent NCD drug stock-outs; and development of peer initiatives to purchase NCD drugs. Initial concerns about potential disruption of HIV care were overcome, leading to staff motivation to continue delivering integrated care.

Conclusions: Implementing integrated care has the potential to sustainably reduce duplication of services, improve retention in care and treatment adherence for co/multi-morbid patients, encourage knowledge-sharing between patients and providers, and reduce HIV stigma.

Trial registration number: ISRCTN43896688.
Original languageEnglish
Article number570
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2023


  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Hypertension
  • Integrated care
  • Non-communicable disease
  • Uganda

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