Implementing and Evaluating Community Health Worker-Led Cardiovascular Disease Risk Screening Intervention in Sub-Saharan Africa Communities: A Participatory Implementation Research Protocol
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The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), particularly cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) poses a considerable threat to public health. Community-driven CVD risk screening, referral and follow-up of those at high CVDs risk is essential to supporting early identification, treatment and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events such as stroke and myocardial infarction. This protocol describes a multi-country study that aims to implement and evaluate a community health worker (CHW)-led CVD risk screening programme to enhance referral linkages within the local primary care systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), using a participatory implementation science approach. The study builds upon a prior community-driven multicentre study conducted by the Collaboration for Evidence-based Health Care and Public Health in Africa (CEBHA+). This is a participatory implementation research. The study will leverage on the CVD risk citizen science pilot studies conducted in the four selected CEBHA+ project countries (viz. Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi, and South Africa). Through planned engagements with communities and health system stakeholders, CHWs and lay health worker volunteers will be recruited and trained to screen and identify persons that are at high risk of CVD, provide referral services, and follow-up at designated community health clinics. In each country, we will use a multi-stage random sampling to select and then screen 1000 study participants aged 35–70 years from two communities (one rural and one urban). Screening will be done using a simple validated non-laboratory-based CVD risk assessment mobile application. The RE-AIM model will be used in evaluating the project implementation outcomes, including reach, fidelity, adoption and perceived effectiveness. Developing the capacities of CHWs and lay health worker volunteers in SSA to support population-based, non-invasive population-based CVD risk prevention has the potential to impact on early identification, treatment and secondary prevention of CVDs in often under-resourced communities. Using a participatory research approach to implementing mobile phone-based CHW-led CVD risk screening, referral and follow-up in SSA will provide the evidence needed to determine the effectiveness of CVD risk screening and the potential for scaling up in the wider region.