Barriers and enablers to improving integrated primary healthcare for non-communicable diseases and mental health conditions in Ethiopia: a mixed methods study

Alemayehu Bekele*, Atalay Alem, Nadine Seward, Tigist Eshetu, Tewodros Haile Gebremariam, Yeneneh Getachew, Wondosen Mengiste, Girmay Medhin, Lara Fairall, Nick Sevdalis, Martin Prince, Abebaw Fekadu, Charlotte Hanlon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: The Ethiopian Primary Healthcare Clinical Guidelines (EPHCG) seek to improve quality of primary health care, while also expanding access to care for people with Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health Conditions (NCDs/MHCs). The aim of this study was to identify barriers and enablers to implementation of the EPHCG with a particular focus on NCDs/MHCs.

METHODS: A mixed-methods convergent-parallel design was employed after EPHCG implementation in 18 health facilities in southern Ethiopia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 primary healthcare clinicians and one healthcare administrator. Organisational Readiness for Implementing Change (ORIC) questionnaire was self-completed by 124 health workers and analysed using Kruskal Wallis ranked test to investigate median score differences. Qualitative data were mapped to the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Science (CFIR) and the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) were employed to select implementation strategies to address barriers.

RESULTS: Four domains were identified: EPHCG training and implementation, awareness and meeting patient needs (demand side), resource constraints/barriers (supply side) and care pathway bottlenecks. The innovative facility-based training to implement EPHCG had a mixed response, especially in busy facilities where teams reported struggling to find protected time to meet. Key barriers to implementation of EPHCG were non-availability of resources (CFIR inner setting), such as laboratory reagents and medications that undermined efforts to follow guideline-based care, the way care was structured and lack of familiarity with providing care for people with NCDs-MHCs. Substantial barriers arose because of socio-economic problems that were interlinked with health but not addressable within the health system (CFIR outer setting). Other factors influencing effective implementation of EPHCG (TDF) included low population awareness about NCDs/MHCs and unaffordable diagnostic and treatment services (TDF). Implementation strategies were identified. ORIC findings indicated high scores of organisational readiness to implement the desired change with likely social desirability bias.

CONCLUSION: Although perceived as necessary, practical implementation of EPHCG was constrained by challenges across domains of internal/external determinants. This was especially marked in relation to expansion of care responsibilities to include NCDs/MHCs. Attention to social determinants of health outcomes, community engagement and awareness-raising are needed to maximize population impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211
JournalBMC Primary Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Humans
  • Ethiopia
  • Noncommunicable Diseases/therapy
  • Primary Health Care/organization & administration
  • Mental Disorders/therapy
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated/organization & administration
  • Female
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Improvement
  • Health Services Accessibility/organization & administration
  • Health Personnel/psychology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


Dive into the research topics of 'Barriers and enablers to improving integrated primary healthcare for non-communicable diseases and mental health conditions in Ethiopia: a mixed methods study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this