PloS one 2016 06 2211(6) e0156975 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0156975
Truck drivers have unique health needs, and by virtue of their continuous travel, experience difficulty in accessing healthcare. Currently, planning for effective care is hindered by lack of knowledge about their health needs and about the impact of on-going programmes on this population’s health outcomes. We reviewed healthcare programmes implemented for sub-Saharan African truck drivers, assessed the evaluation methods, and examined impact on health outcomes.
We searched scientific and institutional databases, and online search engines to include all publications describing a healthcare programme in sub-Saharan Africa where the main clients were truck drivers. We consulted experts and organisations working with mobile populations to identify unpublished reports. Forest plots of impact and outcome indicators with unadjusted risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals were created to map the impact of these programmes. We performed a subgroup analysis by type of indicator using a random-effects model to assess between-study heterogeneity. We conducted a sensitivity analysis to examine both the summary effect estimate chosen (risk difference vs. risk ratio) and model to summarise results (fixed vs. random effects).
Thirty-seven publications describing 22 healthcare programmes across 30 countries were included from 5,599 unique records. All programmes had an HIV-prevention focus with only three expanding their services to cover conditions other primary healthcare services. Twelve programmes were evaluated and most evaluations assessed changes in input, output, and outcome indicators. Absence of comparison groups, preventing attribution of the effect observed to the programme and lack of biologically confirmed outcomes were the main limitations. Four programmes estimated a quantitative change in HIV prevalence or reported STI incidence, with mixed results, and one provided anecdotal evidence of changes in AIDS-related mortality and social norms. Most programmes showed positive changes in risk behaviours, knowledge, and attitudes. Our conclusions were robust in sensitivity analyses.
Diverse healthcare programmes tailored to the needs of truck drivers implemented in 30 sub-Saharan African countries have shown potential benefits. However, information gaps about availability of services and their effects impede further planning and implementation of effective healthcare programmes for truck drivers.