Assistant Professor of Social & Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology
Dr. Mari Armstrong-Hough is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences and in the Department of Epidemiology. She is a medical sociologist and epidemiologist of respiratory disease.
Dr. Armstrong-Hough’s global health research examines the epidemiologic interfaces among tuberculosis (TB), HIV, and non-communicable diseases. Combining training in epidemiology and sociology, her work develops and evaluates interventions to increase early case-finding, status awareness, and linkage to care in high-burden settings like Uganda and South Africa. She has published on predictors of evaluation for TB among high-risk groups, novel approaches to active case-finding for TB and HIV, the ways that providers and patients imagine and communicate risk for respiratory infection, and the availability of essential medicines in settings with double burdens of infectious and non-communicable disease. Her first book, Biomedicalization and the Practice of Culture: Globalization and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States and Japan (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), examined how the practice and experience of global evidence-based medicine is shaped by local cultural repertoires. Her recent work has appeared in the Journal of AIDS, International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, and the The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. She also co-directs the NIH-funded Mixed-Methods Fellowship of the Pulmonary Complications of AIDS Research Training Program at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. She is PI of a prospective cohort study of patients initiating treatment for pulmonary TB in Uganda and a co-investigator on NIH-funded studies of contact tracing for TB.
Dr. Armstrong-Hough’s US-based research examines racial and ethnic disparities in survival of respiratory failure and seeks to develop interventions to ensure that all patients with respiratory failure receive evidence-based care. Approximately 750,000 Americans die each year from respiratory failure, and its 2.5 million survivors experience poor physical function and quality of life persisting five years after discharge. Minority patients are significantly less likely to survive respiratory failure, with up to twice the odds of death as non-Hispanic White patients. Dr. Armstrong-Hough co-PIs the Promoting Equity via Changes In Practice for Respiratory Failure (PRECIPICE) studies, which use large-scale, multicenter data from US ICUs to identify care processes associated with inequities in survival and long-term outcomes. Early work related to these studies has been accepted to Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
Before coming to NYU, Dr. Armstrong-Hough was an Associate Research Scientist in Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale School of Public Health. She previously taught at Davidson College, Meiji University in Tokyo, and Duke University. She has conducted fieldwork in the United States, Japan, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Nepal and is a recipient of the Robert E. Leet and Clara Guthrie Patterson Trust Mentored Research Award in Clinical, Health Services and Policy Research.
BA, Sociology, History, and Political Science, University of Wisconsin–MadisonMA, East Asian Studies, Duke UniversityPhD, Sociology, Duke UniversityPostdoctoral MPH, Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Yale
A user-centred implementation strategy for tuberculosis contact investigation in Uganda: protocol for a stepped-wedge, cluster-randomised trial
Associations among past trauma, post-displacement stressors, and mental health outcomes in Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: A secondary cross-sectional analysis
Clinical Practices Following Train-The-Trainer Trauma Course Completion in Uganda: A Parallel-Convergent Mixed-Methods Study
Disparities among patients with respiratory failure
mHealth to improve implementation of TB contact investigation: a case study from Uganda
Adapting a tobacco cessation treatment intervention and implementation strategies to enhance implementation effectiveness and clinical outcomes in the context of HIV care in Vietnam: a case studyShelley, D., Alvarez, G. G., Nguyen, T., Nguyen, N., Goldsamt, L., Cleland, C., Tozan, Y., Shuter, J., & Armstrong-Hough, M. (n.d.).
Journal titleImplementation Science Communications
Issue1AbstractBackground: Smoking rates remain high in Vietnam, particularly among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH), but tobacco cessation services are not available in outpatient HIV clinics (OPCs). The research team is conducting a type II hybrid randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing the cost-effectiveness of three tobacco cessation interventions among PLWH receiving care in HIV clinics in Vietnam. The study is simultaneously evaluating the implementation processes and outcomes of strategies aimed at increasing the implementation of tobacco dependence treatment (TDT) in the context of HIV care. This paper describes the systematic, theory-driven process of adapting intervention components and implementation strategies with demonstrated effectiveness in high-income countries, and more recently in Vietnam, to a new population (i.e., PLWH) and new clinical setting, prior to launching the trial. Methods: Data collection and analyses were guided by two implementation science frameworks and the socio-ecological model. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 13 health care providers and 24 patients in three OPCs. Workflow analyses were conducted in each OPC. Qualitative data were analyzed using rapid qualitative analysis procedures. Based on findings, components of the intervention and implementation strategies were adapted, followed by a 3-month pilot study in one OPC with 16 patients randomized to one of two intervention arms. Results: The primary adaptations included modifying the TDT intervention counseling content to address barriers to quitting among PLWH and Vietnamese sociocultural norms that support smoking cessation. Implementation strategies (i.e., training and system changes) were adapted to respond to provider- and clinic-level determinants of implementation effectiveness (e.g., knowledge gaps, OPC resource constraints, staffing structure, compatibility). Conclusions: Adaptations were facilitated through a mixed method, stakeholder (patient and health care provider, district health leader)-engaged evaluation of context-specific influences on intervention and implementation effectiveness. This data-driven approach to refining and adapting components aimed to optimize intervention effectiveness and implementation in the context of HIV care. Balancing pragmatism with rigor through the use of rapid analysis procedures and multiple methods increased the feasibility of the adaptation process. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05162911 . Registered on December 16, 2021.
Assessing a norming intervention to promote acceptance of HIV testing and reduce stigma during household tuberculosis contact investigation: Protocol for a cluster-randomised trial
Core components of a Community of Practice to improve community health worker performance: a qualitative study
Factors associated with willingness to use oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in a fisher-folk community in peri-urban Kampala, UgandaSsuna, B., Katahoire, A., Armstrong-Hough, M., Kalibbala, D., Kalyango, J. N., & Kiweewa, F. M. (n.d.).
Journal titleBMC public health
Issue1AbstractBackground: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in key populations at elevated risk for exposure to HIV. If used effectively, PrEP can reduce annual HIV incidence to below 0.05%. However, PrEP is not acceptable among all communities that might benefit from it. There is, therefore, a need to understand perceptions of PrEP and factors associated with willingness to use PrEP among key populations at risk of HIV, such as members of communities with exceptionally high HIV prevalence. Objective: To examine the perceptions and factors associated with willingness to use oral PrEP among members of fishing communities in Uganda, a key population at risk of HIV. Methods: We conducted an explanatory sequential mixed-methods study at Ggaba fishing community from February to June 2019. Survey data were collected from a systematic random sample of 283 community members in which PrEP had not been rolled out yet by the time of we conducted the study. We carried out bivariate tests of association of willingness to use PrEP with demographic characteristics, HIV risk perception, HIV testing history. We estimated prevalence ratios for willingness to use PrEP. We used backward elimination to build a multivariable modified Poisson regression model to describe factors associated with willingness to use PrEP. We purposively selected 16 participants for focus group discussions to contextualize survey findings, analysing data inductively and identifying emergent themes related to perceptions of PrEP. Key results: We enrolled 283 participants with a mean age of 31 ± 8 years. Most (80.9%) were male. The majority of participants had tested for HIV in their lifetime, but 64% had not tested in the past 6 months. Self-reported HIV prevalence was 6.4%. Most (80.6, 95%CI 75.5–85.0) were willing in principle to use PrEP. Willingness to use PrEP was associated with perceiving oneself to be at high risk of HIV (aPR 1.99, 95%CI 1.31–3.02, P = 0.001), having tested for HIV in the past 6-months (aPR 1.13, 95%CI 1.03–1.24, P = 0.007), and completion of tertiary education (aPR 1.97, 95%CI 1.39–2.81, P < 0.001). In focus group discussions, participants described pill burden, side-effects and drug safety as potential barriers to PrEP use. Conclusions and recommendations: Oral PrEP was widely acceptable among members of fishing communities in peri-urban Kampala. Programs for scaling-up PrEP for fisherfolk should merge HIV testing services with sensitization about PrEP and also increase means of awareness of PrEP as an HIV preventive strategy.
Implementation, interrupted: Identifying and leveraging factors that sustain after a programme interruption
Patient preferences for facility-based management of hypertension and diabetes in rural Uganda: A discrete choice experiment
Perceptions, preferences, and experiences of tuberculosis education and counselling among patients and providers in Kampala, Uganda: A qualitative studyAyakaka, I., Armstrong-Hough, M., Hannaford, A., Ggita, J. M., Turimumahoro, P., Katamba, A., Katahoire, A., Cattamanchi, A., Shenoi, S. V., & Davis, J. L. (n.d.).
Journal titleGlobal Public Health
Page(s)2911-2928AbstractTuberculosis (TB) education seeks to increase patient knowledge about TB, while TB counselling seeks to offer tailored advice and support for medication adherence. While universally recommended, little is known about how to provide effective, efficient, patient-centred TB education and counselling (TEC) in low-income, high HIV-TB burden settings. We sought to characterise stakeholder perceptions of TEC in a public, primary care facility in Kampala, Uganda, by conducting focus group discussions with health workers and TB patients in the TB and HIV clinics. Participants valued TEC but reported that high-quality TEC is rarely provided, because of a lack of time, space, staff, planning, and prioritisation given to TEC. To improve TEC, they recommended adopting practices that have proven effective in the HIV clinic, including better specifying educational content, and employing peer educators focused on TEC. Patients and health workers suggested that TEC should not only improve TB patient knowledge and adherence, but should also empower and assist all those undergoing evaluation for TB, whether confirmed or not, to educate their households and communities about TB. Community-engaged research with patients and front-line providers identified opportunities to streamline and standardise the delivery of TEC using a patient-centred, peer-educator model.
Saliva-based methods for SARS-CoV-2 testing in low-and middle-income countriesTan, S. H., Allicock, O. M., Katamba, A., Carrington, C. V., Wyllie, A. L., & Armstrong-Hough, M. (n.d.).
Journal titleBulletin of the World Health Organization
Page(s)808-814AbstractAs the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to disproportionately affect low-and middle-income countries, the need for simple, accessible and frequent diagnostic testing grows. In lower-resource settings, case detection is often limited by a lack of available testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). To address global inequities in testing, alternative sample types could be used to increase access to testing by reducing the associated costs. Saliva is a sensitive, minimally invasive and inexpensive diagnostic sample for SARS-CoV-2 detection that is appropriate for asymptomatic surveillance, symptomatic testing and at-home collection. Saliva testing can lessen two major challenges faced by lower-and middle-income countries: constrained resources and overburdened health workers. Saliva sampling enables convenient self-collection and requires fewer resources than swab-based methods. However, saliva testing for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics has not been implemented on a large scale in low-and middle-income countries. While numerous studies based in these settings have demonstrated the usefulness of saliva sampling, there has been insufficient attention on optimizing its implementation in practice. We argue that implementation science research is needed to bridge this gap between evidence and practice. Low-and middle-income countries face many barriers as they continue their efforts to provide mass COVID-19 testing in the face of substantial inequities in global access to vaccines. Laboratories should look to replicate successful approaches for sensitive detection of SARS-CoV-2 in saliva, while governments should act to facilitate mass testing by lifting restrictions that limit implementation of saliva-based methods.
Theory-Informed Design of a Tailored Strategy for Implementing Household TB Contact Investigation in UgandaDavis, J. L., Ayakaka, I., Ggita, J. M., Ochom, E., Babirye, D., Turimumahoro, P., Gupta, A. J., Mugabe, F. R., Armstrong-Hough, M., Cattamanchi, A., & Katamba, A. (n.d.).
Journal titleFrontiers in Public Health
Volume10AbstractSince 2012, the World Health Organization has recommended household contact investigation as an evidence-based intervention to find and treat individuals with active tuberculosis (TB), the most common infectious cause of death worldwide after COVID-19. Unfortunately, uptake of this recommendation has been suboptimal in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of affected individuals reside, and little is known about how to effectively deliver this service. Therefore, we undertook a systematic process to design a novel, theory-informed implementation strategy to promote uptake of contact investigation in Uganda, using the COM-B (Capability-Opportunity-Motivation-Behavior) model and the Behavior Change Wheel (BCW) framework. We systematically engaged national, clinic-, and community-based stakeholders and collectively re-examined the results of our own formative, parallel mixed-methods studies. We identified three core behaviors within contact investigation that we wished to change, and multiple antecedents (i.e., barriers and facilitators) of those behaviors. The BCW framework helped identify multiple intervention functions targeted to these antecedents, as well as several policies that could potentially enhance the effectiveness of those interventions. Finally, we identified multiple behavior change techniques and policies that we incorporated into a multi-component implementation strategy, which we compared to usual care in a household cluster-randomized trial. We introduced some components in both arms, including those designed to facilitate initial uptake of contact investigation, with improvement relative to historical controls. Other components that we introduced to facilitate completion of TB evaluation—home-based TB-HIV evaluation and follow-up text messaging—returned negative results due to implementation failures. In summary, the Behavior Change Wheel framework provided a feasible and transparent approach to designing a theory-informed implementation strategy. Future studies should explore the use of experimental methods such as micro-randomized trials to identify the most active components of implementation strategies, as well as more creative and entrepreneurial methods such as human-centered design to better adapt the forms and fit of implementation strategies to end users.
An emerging syndemic of smoking and cardiopulmonary diseases in people living with HIV in AfricaPeprah, E., Armstrong-Hough, M., Cook, S. H., Mukasa, B., Taylor, J. Y., Xu, H., Chang, L., Gyamfi, J., Ryan, N., Ojo, T., Snyder, A., Iwelunmor, J., Ezechi, O., Iyegbe, C., O’reilly, P., & Kengne, A. P. (n.d.).
Journal titleInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Page(s)1-12AbstractBackground: African countries have the highest number of people living with HIV (PWH). The continent is home to 12% of the global population, but accounts for 71% of PWH globally. Antiretroviral therapy has played an important role in the reduction of the morbidity and mortality rates for HIV, which necessitates increased surveillance of the threats from pernicious risks to which PWH who live longer remain exposed. This includes cardiopulmonary comorbidities, which pose significant public health and economic challenges. A significant contributor to the cardiopulmonary comorbidities is tobacco smoking. Indeed, globally, PWH have a 2–4-fold higher utilization of tobacco compared to the general population, leading to endothelial dysfunction and atherogenesis that result in cardiopulmonary diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and coronary artery disease. In the context of PWH, we discuss (1) the current trends in cigarette smoking and (2) the lack of geographically relevant data on the cardiopulmonary conditions associated with smoking; we then review (3) the current evidence on chronic inflammation induced by smoking and the potential pathways for cardiopulmonary disease and (4) the multifactorial nature of the syndemic of smoking, HIV, and cardiopulmonary diseases. This commentary calls for a major, multi-setting cohort study using a syndemics framework to assess cardiopulmonary disease outcomes among PWH who smoke. Conclusion: We call for a parallel program of implementation research to promote the adoption of evidence-based interventions, which could improve health outcomes for PWH with cardiopulmonary diseases and address the health inequities experienced by PWH in African countries.
Availability, functionality and access of blood pressure machines at the points of care in public primary care facilities in Tororo district, UgandaBesigye, I. K., Okuuny, V., Armstrong-Hough, M., Katahoire, A. R., Sewankambo, N. K., Mash, R., & Katamba, A. (n.d.).
Journal titleSouth African Family Practice
Page(s)1-6AbstractBackground: Early diagnosis of hypertension prevents a significant number of complications and premature deaths. In resource-variable settings, diagnosis may be limited by inadequate access to blood pressure (BP) machines. We sought to understand the availability, functionality and access of BP machines at the points of care within primary care facilities in Tororo district, Uganda. Methods: This was an explanatory sequential mixed-methods study combining a structured facility checklist and key informant interviews with primary care providers. The checklist was used to collect data on availability and functionality of BP machines within their organisational arrangements. Key informant interviews explored health providers’ access to BP machines. Results: The majority of health facilities reported at least one working BP machine. However, Health providers described limited access to machines because they are not located at each point of care. Health providers reported borrowing amongst themselves within their respective units or from other units within the facility. Some health providers purchase and bring their own BP machines to the health facilities or attempted to restore the functionality of broken ones. They are motivated to search the clinic for BP machines for some patients but not others based on their perception of the patient’s risk for hypertension. Conclusion: Access to BP machines at the point of care was limited. This makes hypertension screening selective based on health providers’ perception of the patients’ risk for hypertension. Training in proper BP machine use and regular maintenance will minimise frequent breakdowns.
Gaps in TB preventive therapy for persons initiating antiretroviral therapy in Uganda: an explanatory sequential cascade analysisKalema, N., Semeere, A., Banturaki, G., Kyamugabwa, A., Ssozi, S., Ggita, J., Kabajaasi, O., Kambugu, A., Kigozi, J., Muganzi, A., Castelnuovo, B., Cattamanchi, A., & Armstrong-Hough, M. (n.d.).
Journal titleInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Page(s)388-394AbstractBACKGROUND: The WHO recommends TB symptom screening and TB preventive therapy (TPT) for latent TB infection (LTBI) in persons living with HIV (PLWH). However, TPT uptake remains limited. We aimed to characterize and contextualize gaps in the TPT care cascade among persons enrolling for antiretroviral therapy (ART).SETTING: Four PEPFAR-supported facilities in Uganda.METHODS: We studied a proportionate stratified random sample of persons registering for ART when TPT was available. Patient-level data on eligibility, initiation, and completion were obtained from registers to determine proportion of eligible patients completing each cascade step. We interviewed providers and administrators and used content analysis to identify barriers to guideline-concordant TPT practices.RESULTS: Of 399 study persons, 309 (77%) were women. Median age was 29 (IQR 25-34), CD4 count 405 cells/µL (IQR 222-573), and body mass 23 kg/m² (IQR 21-25). Of 390 (98%) screened, 372 (93%) were TPT-eligible. Only 62 (17%) eligible PLWH initiated and 36 (58%) of 62 completed TPT. Providers reported hesitating to prescribe TPT because they lacked confidence excluding TB by symptom screening alone and feared promoting drug resistance. Although isoniazid was available, past experience of irregular supply discouraged TPT initiation. Providers pointed to insufficient TB-dedicated staff, speculated that patients discounted TB risk, and worried TPT pill burden and side effects depressed ART adherence.CONCLUSIONS: While screening was nearly universal, most eligible PLWH did not initiate TPT. Only about half of those who initiated completed treatment. Providers feared promoting drug resistance, harbored uncertainty about continued availability, and worried TPT could antagonize ART adherence. Our findings suggest urgent need for stakeholder engagement in TPT provision.
Patient experiences of switching from Efavirenz- to Dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy: a qualitative study in UgandaTwimukye, A., Laker, M., Odongpiny, E. A. L., Ajok, F., Onen, H., Kalule, I., Kajubi, P., Seden, K., Owarwo, N., Kiragga, A., Armstrong-Hough, M., Katahoire, A., Mujugira, A., Lamorde, M., & Castelnuovo, B. (n.d.).
Journal titleBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue1AbstractBackground: In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended Dolutegravir (DTG) as the preferred first-line antiretroviral treatment (ART) for all persons with HIV. ART regimen switches may affect HIV treatment adherence. We sought to describe patient experiences switching from EFV to DTG-based ART in Kampala, Uganda. Methods: Between July and September 2019, we purposively sampled adults living with HIV who had switched to DTG at the Infectious Diseases Institute HIV clinic. We conducted in-depth interviews with adults who switched to DTG, to explore their preparation to switch and experiences on DTG. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically using Atlas ti version 8 software. Results: We interviewed 25 adults: 18 (72%) were women, and the median age was 35 years (interquartile range [IQR] 30–40). Median length on ART before switching to DTG was 67 months (IQR 51–125). Duration on DTG after switching was 16 months (IQR 10–18). Participants reported accepting provider recommendations to switch to DTG mainly because they anticipated that swallowing a smaller pill once a day would be more convenient. While most participants initially felt uncertain about drug switching, their providers offer of frequent appointments and a toll-free number to call in the event of side effects allayed their anxiety. At the same time, participants said they felt rushed to switch to the new ART regimen considering that they had been on their previous regimen(s) for several years and the switch to DTG happened during a routine visit when they had expected their regular prescription. Some participants felt unprepared for new adverse events associated with DTG and for the abrupt change in treatment schedule. Most participants said they needed additional support from their health providers before and after switching to DTG. Conclusion and recommendations: Adults living with HIV stable on an EFV-based regimen but were switched to DTG in a program-wide policy change found the duration between counselling and drug switching inadequate. DTG was nonetheless largely preferred because of the small pill size, once daily dosing, and absence of EFV-like side effects. Community-engaged research is needed to devise acceptable ways to prepare participants for switching ART at scale.
Risk, race, and structural racism
Social support for self-care: Patient strategies for managing diabetes and hypertension in rural uganda
Experiences and intentions of Ugandan household tuberculosis contacts receiving test results via text message: An exploratory study
Implementing mhealth interventions in a resource-constrained setting: Case study from Uganda
Mobile Health Technologies May Be Acceptable Tools for Providing Social Support to Tuberculosis Patients in Rural Uganda: A Parallel Mixed-Method StudyMusiimenta, A., Tumuhimbise, W., Atukunda, E. C., Mugaba, A. T., Muzoora, C., Armstrong-Hough, M., Bangsberg, D., Davis, J. L., & Haberer, J. E. (n.d.).
Journal titleTuberculosis research and treatment
Page(s)7401045AbstractBackground: Social support has been shown to mitigate social barriers to medication adherence and improve tuberculosis (TB) treatment success rates. The use of mobile technology to activate social support systems among TB patients, however, has not been well explored. Moreover, studies that tie supportive SMS (Short Message Service) texts to electronic monitoring of TB medication adherence are lacking.Objective: To explore TB patients' current access to social support and perceptions of utilizing real-time adherence monitoring interventions to support medication adherence.Methods: We purposively selected TB patients who owned phones, had been taking TB medications for ≥1 month, were receiving their treatment from Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, and reported having ≥1 social supporter. We interviewed these patients and their social supporters about their access to and perceptions of social support. We used STATA 13 to describe participants' sociodemographic and social support characteristics. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis to derive categories describing accessibility and perceptions.Results: TB patients report requesting and receiving a variety of different forms of social support, including instrumental (e.g., money for transport and other needs and medication reminders), emotional (e.g., adherence counselling), and informational (e.g., medication side effects) support through mobile phones. Participants felt that SMS notifications may motivate medication adherence by creating a personal sense of obligation to take medications regularly. Participants anticipated that limited financial resources and relationship dynamics could constrain the provision of social support especially when patients and social supporters are not oriented about their expectations.Conclusion: Mobile telephones could provide alternative approaches to providing social support for TB medication adherence especially where patients do not stay close to their social supporters. Further efforts should focus on optimized designs of mobile phone-based applications for providing social support to TB patients and training of TB patients and social supporters to match their expectations.
Predictors of evaluation in child contacts of TB patients
Prevalence, associated factors and perspectives of HIV testing among men in Uganda