MTC + the B (Behaviour) at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital

It has been a great week so far working with our amazing lead from the University of Makerere and our colleagues from the IDRC (Infectious Diseases Research Collaboration). The main aim of this partnership is to support the development of the Medicines & Therapeutic Committee (MTC), which will be focused on antimicrobial stewardship practices at Jinja Hospital. Our visit started with meeting our colleagues in Uganda, Freddy Kitutu from the University of Makerere and James Kapisi from the IDRC, to discuss the project and week ahead, plus other very important topics such as the rolex (not to be mistaken for a watch) and kilts.

During the beautiful drive from Kampala to Jinja, and continuing over dinner, we took the opportunity to find out more about how the health system works in Uganda and planned the next couple of days. The start of the week has been extremely busy, meeting healthcare staff throughout Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, ranging from paediatric to adult wards. Taking time to explain our work as behavioural scientists, interested in learning about systems, and behaviours has been crucial to building relationships. The enthusiasm from healthcare professionals in relation to this has been fantastic, with many stating the need for behavioural science. As one doctor put it – “it all comes down to behaviour which involves more than knowing what to do”.

Following this we have been able to shadow ward rounds to learn about communication and decision making, discuss prescribing behaviours and processes with doctors and pharmacists, and understand more about laboratory testing. This has provided fascinating insight into how medical and teaching procedures are conducted.

Last night we spent the evening with our colleagues and some of the healthcare staff from Jinja Hospital at the source of the River Nile. This was fascinating, not only for discussing the project, but also to learn more about Uganda’s history and culture while taking in the incredible view. We are excited to see what lies ahead for this great project and will keep you updated.

Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship

The UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Fleming Fund has funded 12 partnerships between UK health organisations and organisations in Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and Ghana.

The partnership scheme, jointly run by Tropical Health and Education Trust and the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association, aims to mobilise health, education and policy professionals to create partnerships for antimicrobial stewardship.  We were asked to provide support to the partners and over the next 18 months, 8 Change Exchange volunteers will work with 4 of the partnerships directly.

Today, Jo and Lucie are attending the inception workshop and tomorrow will lead a session for all partnerships on behaviour change within health partnerships.  The training will focus on ‘thinking behaviourally’, including learning about how to make training more behaviourally focused.  We will be using our guide, recently created with Eleanor Bull and Wendy Maltinsky, Health Psychologists who have volunteered with The Change Exchange and our Cards for Change.

The experience in the room, from the 12 partnerships, is awe inspiring and we and our volunteers will be learning a great deal about how behavioural science fits with health partnership work for antimicrobial stewardship.  An exciting time ahead.

Cards for Change

It’s all well and good encouraging people to ‘think behaviourally’ about education and training of health professionals but how easy is it for people to begin to do that?  In our work with educators and trainers around the world, we noticed that people were keen to use behaviour change techniques in their training but that it was difficult to learn about BCTs and even harder to think about what activities might include them.  Building on a study in which we had developed a way to ‘live code’ training to identify BCTs, we gathered together a group of talented educators and health psychologists for a workshop.  Taking each of the BCTs which could or have appeared in training, we asked them to think about activities that could be added to training to include each BCT.  Funded by the knowledge exchange part of our Health Education England grant (Teams Together), we employed talented designed, Barry Kinder, and together we created the Cards for Change, printed by Chapel Press.  We have come to the end of our current stock and are currently exploring options for printing more.

Cape Town

We are delighted to say that we are working hard with our colleagues from Cape Town to attract funding for work together.

In 2017, The Change Exchange organised a knowledge exchange event in Rwanda for people working on health professional practice change in low and middle income countries.  Among the invited attendees was Professor Leslie Swartz, Distinguished Professor of Psychology from Stellenbosch University.  One of Leslie’s passions is about capacity building African scholars to enable more publication of African research by African researchers in international journals.  Leslie runs workshops in many countries for researchers who wish to improve their academic writing skills.  We have applied for British Academy funding to bring together research leaders in psychology of health to create a network of others who will follow in Leslie’s footsteps in supporting and enabling psychologist researchers to publish.  We are ‘holding thumbs’ (crossing fingers for our UK readers!) that we will get funding.

Our visit to Cape Town, in the October of 2017, was inspiring. Invited by Leslie, we visited the psychology department of Stellenbosch University, learning about the work being undertaken in health and about the role of health psychology in South Africa.  We met Dr Jason Bantjes, a counselling psychologist who researches, amongst other things, suicide.  We had many overlapping interests and have had, so far unsuccessful, grant applications together.  In our visit, we were presenting our work on behaviour change, including Jo’s work on TENT PEGS – a tool for behaviour change communication and our work with The Change Exchange.  Health psychology is not a discipline in South Africa and Jason is developing an excellent project to increase health psychology training, which we will be supporting.

You couldn’t blog about Cape Town without mentioning its history and its beauty.  Wow.  It is breathtaking in so many ways.  We found time to visit Robben Island, Table Mountain, and to learn more about the history from Jason, Leslie and other psychologists Louise Frenkel and Anthea Lesch.  They were all so generous with their time and their welcome was as warm as the Western Cape itself.

Two women, two conferences, one tiny car

In August 2018, Jo and Lucie went to the West Coast of Ireland for two very different, excellent conferences.  Being Change Exchangers, we decided to take a different approach and thus began an epic road trip in a smart car.

Drive to Holyhead, ferry to Dublin and a drive across Ireland, and we arrived in Limerick for the Towards Unity for Health Conference.  A truly international affair, the conference reported on the work of educators all over the world, working to make health professional education more socially accountable.  Social accountability is really ensuring that the work of the university serves the community.  In some countries, medical schools were setting up clinics in areas of low-resource, staffed by the tutors and students.  Students were learning, communities were being served and the benefit of the community coming together was greater than the sum of the parts.

A trip along the Wild Atlantic Way led us to a couple of days in the Wild Atlantic Lodge, working hard and enjoying the scenery.  We found a few hours to take in the Cliffs of Moher.  These cliffs are famous for two reasons: 1) they are the second most visited place in Ireland and 2) they are home of the cave in the Harry Potter films.  The Atlantic lived up to its wild reputation but thankfully we had our sea legs and were able to enjoy the Doolin Ferry.


From then, a short drive to the beautiful city of Galway and the annual conference of the European Health Psychology Society.  Here, we presented our Change Exchange work and took part in a round table discussion about translation and knowledge exchange.  The European Health Psychologist community is small and perfectly formed.  Jo, as Chair of the Division of Health Psychology, British Psychological Society, had a DHP members meeting – to ensure members who attend EHPS and not DHP conference have a chance to make their feelings known.  Lucie became Chair of the EHPS United Nations sub-committee.  EHPS has special consultative status with the UN and the sub-committee coordinates the EHPS activity in this area.

One final long drive to Dublin and an overnight ferry with 200 truckers returned us to a rainy Liverpool.  A long week, combining work, networking, laughing and workplace karaoke (it’s a great livener – you should try it!).

On Safari in Tanzania: Spotting the big 5 (or big 40!) Behaviour Change Techniques

Change Exchange Behaviour Change Consultant, Eleanor Bull, writes about her recent experiences in Tanzania with the SAFE project

‘So if you give oxygen to the mother before starting her caesarian section, it really can save her life’, summarises the anaesthetist trainer. ‘Are we together?’ she adds. ‘Yes’ chorus the nurse anaesthetist delegates in unison. Behind them, Nim and I begin tapping away at our ipads. The trainer just used the behavior change technique ‘information about health consequences’ to encourage the nurse delegates to give oxygen to mothers pre-surgery, a health practice the trainers are teaching in this maternity emergency medicine course.

In September we spent a week in Mwanza, northern Tanzania. Many people come to this beautiful part of the world for a safari, to spot lions, elephants or leopards sleeping in trees, but Nim and I were observing the three day emergency medicine training course Safer Anaesthesia From Education (SAFE) Obstetrics. We are behaviour change consultants volunteering on the latest Change Exchange project, helping the World Federation of Socieities of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) explore the impact of its SAFE Obstetrics course. ‘Safari’ in Swahili actually means journey and it was clear from the welcome we received and warm atmosphere that the course would be a journey of discovery for all involved.

Part of the Change Exchange’s work was to understand which behaviour change techniques (BCTs) trainers use to help delegates to make changes in their practice when they go back to their health facilities across Tanzania. We live coded the course using an e-version of the Michie et al. (2013) BCT Taxonomy v1 on our tablets, which Manchester Implementation Science Collaboration has adapted for use in coding training courses.

Some of the BCTs we hoped to spot were ‘demonstration of behaviour’, ‘practice and behavioural rehearsal’, ‘action planning’ and ‘problem solving’, because of their evidence base in changing behaviour. In fact the faculty of 14 anaesthetist doctor trainers used nearly 40 techniques across the three days. Interestingly, this included a big focus on those used to build motivation for change which are rarely used in similar courses we’ve observed in the UK. For example, in a fantastic instance of the BCT ‘identification of self as a role model’ to encourage use of the World Health Organisation’s pre-surgery checklist, a trainer emphasised to delegates ‘you know the value the checklist can add to people’s lives… if you use it, you will be an example for others in your team and they will have no choice but to follow you…they will follow you’. One of the very entertaining local trainers even livened up a session by unexpectedly handing a delegate a 10,000 shilling note (£3.50) as she had given a great answer to a question. Unfortunately we couldn’t code this as the BCT ‘material reward’ because the reward was directed at the nurse’s knowledge not her actual behaviour…but still very amusing!

Aside from the BCT content, we loved noticing the different styles of the trainers (the ‘how’ of behaviour change) who hailed from six different countries. The international faculty from outside of East Africa tended to make more use of diagrams and check understanding by asking knowledge questions; the trainers from East Africa tended to engage learners by saying most of a sentence with a gap for delegates to reply in unison (‘in emergencies we must always be’…. ‘Prepared’) and asked the lovely question ‘are we together?’ to check understanding. Overall then, there were plenty of sights to be seen on our behaviour change technique safari and no one was sleeping!