Interventions Improving Neurosurgery Patient Outcomes in Uganda (2017-2018)


Global surgery was catapulted into the global health spotlight with the recent publication of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery report. The authors discuss the importance of projects that focus not only on provision of surgical procedures but also on the need for holistic health systems strengthening.

Since 2007, Duke’s Division of Global Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (DGNN) has been utilizing this concept of health systems strengthening to improve neurosurgical care for patients throughout Uganda. Research conducted by DGNN has repeatedly shown that pre- and post-operative care is the area of greatest need within the health system intervention. Infection rates, medication management and patient family education have been identified as the key aspects driving poor patient health outcomes. Data suggest that infection rates can be as high as 30% for preoperative patients. A significant portion of patients aren’t able to afford and properly take the necessary antibiotics to deal with these infections. Patients’ families provide a majority of the care for their loved ones, despite minimal knowledge of the neurological diagnosis, particular medications and skills to notice subtle but important neurological changes.

The 2016-2017 Bass Connections project team gathered data that suggest that hand hygiene has been improved via installation of hand sanitization pumps throughout the ward; medication management issues are worse and more complex than initially thought based on anecdotal evidence; and patient families and staff are willing, able and ready for educational materials to aid in improving communication of how best to take care of neurosurgical patients. The 2017-2018 project will focus on developing interventions and testing their impact.

Project Description

How do we develop interventions for neurosurgical patients that improve patient outcomes? This Bass Connections project team will apply this research question to three foundational areas:

  1. Infection control (Will an infection control clinical practice guideline help build upon the infection control success following the improved hand hygiene practices?)
  2. Medication management (Will a specialized “pill box” provided to neurosurgical patients to store their medications improve medication adherence?)
  3. Patient family education (Will a multiplatform educational intervention aid in the education of patients’ families?)

Team members will be split into three topic teams based on the foundational areas. Each topic team will contribute to the development of an intervention that will be implemented within the health system intervention and generation of data that will be utilized for improving patient care. All of these research projects have the potential to result in abstract, manuscript and/or grant submissions.

Project goals are to develop contextually relevant interventions within the foundational areas; implement and gather impact data from the interventions; generate data for process improvement; and disseminate data to contribute to other providers in low- and middle-income countries.

Anticipated Outcomes

Three interventions that can be implemented at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, with possible relevance for other low- and middle-income countries; process improvement recommendations for DGNN’s work; abstracts, manuscripts and backing for future grant submissions


Summer 2017 – Spring 2018

  • Summer 2017: Project development, implementation: July 3 – August 13
  • Fall 2017: Project evaluation
  • Spring 2018: Project evaluation and conclusion

Team Outcomes to Date

Abstract accepted for GLOCAL 2018 Conference, Houston, TX, March 9-10, 2018

Improving Hand Hygiene through Accessibility in an LMIC Neurosurgical Ward (poster by Anthony Fuller, Akash D. Patel, Kelsey Graywill, Samantha Sadler, Margaret Lund, Joao Ricardo Nickenig Vissoci, Michael Muhumuza, Hussein Ssenyonjo, John Mukasa, Joel Kiryabwire, Michael Haglund)

Evaluating the Feasibility of a Multi-Modal Educational Intervention to Improve Neurosurgical Patients’ and Caregivers’ Health Literacy (poster by Chinemerem Nwosu, Sherry Yang, Sandra Batakana, Jared Gloria, Anthony Fuller, Joao Vissoci, Michael Haglund)

Interventions to Improve Medication Adherence among Neurosurgical Patients at Mulago National Referral Hospital (poster by Sarah Rapaport, Garrett Holmes, Hyan Keun Ahn, Raahina Malik, Anthony Fuller, Winnie Nambataya, Michael Haglund)


Urgent Care: When the Researcher Becomes the Patient (Sam Sadler)

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2017-18 Student Advisory Council

Creating Meaning: Undergraduate Pursues an Intellectual Question Across Boundaries

Bass Connections Students Win Poster and Photo Awards for Research in Uganda, Honduras, Nepal and Peru

Best Photos and Best Posters Announced at Showcase Event

See related teams, Evaluating Interventions Aimed at Improving Neurosurgical Patient Outcomes in Uganda (2018-2019) and Improving Neurosurgery Patient Outcomes in Uganda (2016-2017).

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Anthony Fuller, School of Medicine-Surgery: Neurosurgery*
Michael Haglund, School of Medicine-Surgery: Neurosurgery|Duke Global Health Institute*
Shem Opolot, School of Medicine-Surgery: Neurosurgery
Emily Smith, School of Medicine-Surgery: Neurosurgery
Joao Vissoci, School of Medicine-Surgery: Emergency Medicine

Graduate Team Members

Tony Fuller, Medicine-MD
Jared Gloria, Medicine-MD
Charles Hedges, Bioethics and Sci Policy - AM
Charis Spears, Medicine-MD

Undergraduate Team Members

Sandra Martha Batakana, Chemistry (AB)
Kelsey Graywill, Program II (BS)
Raahina Malik, Neuroscience (AB)
Chinemerem Nwosu, Program II (AB)
Akash Patel, Neuroscience (AB)
Sarah Rapaport, Neuroscience (AB)
Samantha Sadler, Neuroscience (BS), Global Health (AB2)

Community Team Members

Alex Mugalu, Mulago Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery (Uganda)
Michael Muhumuza, Mulago Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery (Uganda)
Juliet Ssekabunga, Mulago Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery (Uganda)

* denotes team leader