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Anthony T. Fuller, Ariana Barkley, Robin Du, Cyrus Elahi, MScGH, Ali R. Tafreshi, Megan Von Isenburg and Michael M. Haglund

OBJECTIVE

Global neurosurgery is a rapidly emerging field that aims to address the worldwide shortages in neurosurgical care. Many published outreach efforts and initiatives exist to address the global disparity in neurosurgical care; however, there is no centralized report detailing these efforts. This scoping review aims to characterize the field of global neurosurgery by identifying partnerships between high-income countries (HICs) and low- and/or middle-income countries (LMICs) that seek to increase neurosurgical capacity.

METHODS

A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley framework. A search was conducted in five electronic databases and the gray literature, defined as literature not published through traditional commercial or academic means, to identify studies describing global neurosurgery partnerships. Study selection and data extraction were performed by four independent reviewers, and any disagreements were settled by the team and ultimately the team lead.

RESULTS

The original database search produced 2221 articles, which was reduced to 183 final articles after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria. These final articles, along with 9 additional gray literature references, captured 169 unique global neurosurgery collaborations between HICs and LMICs. Of this total, 103 (61%) collaborations involved surgical intervention, while local training of medical personnel, research, and education were done in 48%, 38%, and 30% of efforts, respectively. Many of the collaborations (100 [59%]) are ongoing, and 93 (55%) of them resulted in an increase in capacity within the LMIC involved. The largest proportion of efforts began between 2005–2009 (28%) and 2010–2014 (17%). The most frequently involved HICs were the United States, Canada, and France, whereas the most frequently involved LMICs were Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

CONCLUSIONS

This review provides a detailed overview of current global neurosurgery efforts, elucidates gaps in the existing literature, and identifies the LMICs that may benefit from further efforts to improve accessibility to essential neurosurgical care worldwide.

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Ariana S. Barkley, Laura J. Spece, Lia M. Barros, Robert H. Bonow, Ali Ravanpay, Richard Ellenbogen, Phearum Huoy, Try Thy, Seang Sothea, Sopheak Pak, James LoGerfo and Abhijit V. Lele

OBJECTIVE

The high global burden of traumatic brain injury (TBI) disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). These settings also have the greatest disparity in the availability of surgical care in general and neurosurgical care in particular. Recent focus has been placed on alleviating this surgical disparity. However, most capacity assessments are purely quantitative, and few focus on concomitantly assessing the complex healthcare system needs required to care for these patients. The objective of the present study was to use both quantitative and qualitative assessment data to establish a comprehensive approach to inform capacity-development initiatives for TBI care at two hospitals in an LMIC, Cambodia.

METHODS

This mixed-methods study used 3 quantitative assessment tools: the World Health Organization Personnel, Infrastructure, Procedures, Equipment, Supplies (WHO PIPES) checklist, the neurosurgery-specific PIPES (NeuroPIPES) checklist, and the Neurocritical Care (NCC) checklist at two hospitals in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Descriptive statistics were obtained for quantitative results. Qualitative semistructured interviews of physicians, nurses, and healthcare administrators were conducted by a single interviewer. Responses were analyzed using a thematic content analysis approach and coded to allow categorization under the PIPES framework.

RESULTS

Of 35 healthcare providers approached, 29 (82.9%) participated in the surveys, including 19 physicians (65.5%) and 10 nurses (34.5%). The majority had fewer than 5 years of experience (51.7%), were male (n = 26, 89.7%), and were younger than 40 years of age (n = 25, 86.2%). For both hospitals, WHO PIPES scores were lowest in the equipment category. However, using the NCC checklist, both hospitals scored higher in equipment (81.2% and 62.7%) and infrastructure (78.6% and 69.6%; hospital 1 and 2, respectively) categories and lowest in the training/continuing education category (41.7% and 33.3%, hospital 1 and 2, respectively). Using the PIPES framework, analysis of the qualitative data obtained from interviews revealed a need for continuing educational initiatives for staff, increased surgical and critical care supplies and equipment, and infrastructure development. The analysis further elucidated barriers to care, such as challenges with time availability for experienced providers to educate incoming healthcare professionals, issues surrounding prehospital care, maintenance of donated supplies, and patient poverty.

CONCLUSIONS

This mixed-methods study identified areas in supplies, equipment, and educational/training initiatives as areas for capacity development for TBI care in an LMIC such as Cambodia. This first application of the NCC checklist in an LMIC setting demonstrated limitations in its use in this setting. Concomitant qualitative assessments provided insight into barriers otherwise undetected in quantitative assessments.