Implementation science for integration of HIV and non-communicable disease services in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review


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Abstract

Objective:As the burden of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) rises across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), global donors and governments are exploring strategies to integrate HIV and NCD care. Implementation science is an emerging research paradigm that can help such programs achieve health impact at scale. We define implementation science as a systematic, scientific approach to ask and answer questions about how to deliver what works in populations who need it with greater speed, appropriate fidelity, efficiency, and relevant coverage. We identified achievements and gaps in the application of implementation science to HIV/NCD integration, developed an HIV/NCD implementation science research agenda, and detailed opportunities for capacity building and training.Design:We conducted a systematic review of the application of implementation science methods to integrated HIV/NCD programs in SSA.Methods:We searched PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and EMBASE for evaluations of integrated programs in SSA reporting at least one implementation outcome.Results:We identified 31 eligible studies. We found that most studies used only qualitative, economic, or impact evaluation methods. Only one study used a theoretical framework for implementation science. Acceptability, feasibility, and penetration were the most frequently reported implementation outcomes. Adoption, appropriateness, cost, and fidelity were rare; sustainability was not evaluated.Conclusions:Implementation science has a promising role in supporting HIV/NCD integration, although its impact will be limited unless theoretical frameworks, rigorous study designs, and reliable measures are employed. To help support use of implementation science, we need to build sustainable implementation science capacity. Doing so in SSA and supporting implementation science investigators can help expedite HIV/NCD integration.

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