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
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 StudyTang, Z., Kayondo, D., Ullrich, S. J., Namugga, M., Muwanguzi, P., Klazura, G., Ozgediz, D., & Armstrong-Hough, M. (n.d.).
Journal titleWorld Journal of Surgery
Page(s)1399-1408AbstractBackground: Despite the growth of trauma training courses worldwide, evidence for their impact on clinical practice in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is sparse. We investigated trauma practices by trained providers in Uganda using clinical observation, surveys, and interviews. Methods: Ugandan providers participated in the Kampala Advanced Trauma Course (KATC) from 2018 to 2019. Between July and September of 2019, we directly evaluated guideline-concordant behaviors in KATC-exposed facilities using a structured real-time observation tool. We conducted 27 semi-structured interviews with course-trained providers to elucidate experiences of trauma care and factors that impact adoption of guideline-concordant behaviors. We assessed perceptions of trauma resource availability through a validated survey. Results: Of 23 resuscitations, 83% were managed without course-trained providers. Frontline providers inconsistently performed universally applicable assessments: pulse checks (61%), pulse oximetry (39%), lung auscultation (52%), blood pressure (65%), pupil examination (52%). We did not observe skill transference between trained and untrained providers. In interviews, respondents found KATC personally transformative but not sufficient for facility-wide improvement due to issues with retention, lack of trained peers, and resource shortages. Resource perception surveys similarly demonstrated profound resource shortages and variation across facilities. Conclusions: Trained providers view short-term trauma training interventions positively, but these courses may lack long-term impact due to barriers to adopting best practices. Trauma courses should include more frontline providers, target skill transference and retention, and increase the proportion of trained providers at each facility to promote communities of practice. Essential supplies and infrastructure in facilities must be consistent for providers to practice what they have learned.
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
Page(s)112AbstractBACKGROUND: 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
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 interruptionHennein, R., Ggita, J., Ssuna, B., Shelley, D., Akiteng, A. R., Davis, J. L., Katamba, A., & Armstrong-Hough, M. (n.d.).
Journal titleGlobal Public Health
Page(s)1868-1882AbstractMany implementation efforts experience interruptions, especially in settings with developing health systems. Approaches for evaluating interruptions are needed to inform re-implementation strategies. We sought to devise an approach for evaluating interruptions by exploring the sustainability of a programme that implemented diabetes mellitus (DM) screening within tuberculosis clinics in Uganda in 2017. In 2019, we conducted nine interviews with clinic staff and observed clinic visits to determine their views and practices on providing integrated care. We mapped themes to a social ecological model with three levels derived from the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR): outer setting (i.e. community), inner setting (i.e. clinic), and individuals (i.e. clinicians). Respondents explained that DM screening ceased due to disruptions in the national supply chain for glucose test strips, which had cascading effects on clinics and clinicians. Lack of screening supplies in clinics limited clinicians’ opportunities to perform DM screening, which contributed to diminished self-efficacy. However, culture, compatibility and clinicians’ beliefs about DM screening sustained throughout the interruption. We propose an approach for evaluating interruptions using the CFIR and social ecological model; other programmes can adapt this approach to identify cascading effects of interruptions and target them for re-implementation.
Métodos de diagnóstico salival para determinar la infección por el SARS-CoV-2 en países de ingresos bajos y medios
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 study
Saliva-based methods for SARS-CoV-2 testing in low- and middle-income countries
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 Africa
Availability, functionality and access of blood pressure machines at the points of care in public primary care facilities in Tororo district, Uganda
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
Sustainability of the streamlined ART (START-ART) implementation intervention strategy among ART-eligible adult patients in HIV clinics in public health centers in Uganda: a mixed methods studyKaturamu, R., Kamya, M. R., Sanyu, N., Armstrong-Hough, M., & Semitala, F. C. (n.d.).
Journal titleImplementation science communications
Page(s)37AbstractBackground: Despite increasing access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), the proportion of eligible patients initiated on treatment remains suboptimal. Only 64.6% of the people living with HIV (PLHIV) globally were initiated on ART by June 2019. The streamlined ART (START-ART) implementation study was based on the PRECEDE model, which suggests that "predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing" factors are needed to create behavior change. START-ART increased ART initiation within 2 weeks of eligibility by 42%. However, the gains from some implementation interventions erode over time. We evaluated facilitators and barriers to sustainability of this streamlined ART initiation in the year following the implementation period.Methods: We designed a mixed-methods explanatory sequential study to examine the sustainability of START-ART implementation. Quantitative component consisted of cross-sectional patient chart reviews of routinely collected data; qualitative component consisted of key informant interviews of health workers in START-ART facilities 2 years after conclusion of the implementation period. We analyzed data from 15 public health centers of Mbarara district, where the START-ART implementation was carried out. We included PLHIV aged > 18 years who initiated ART from June 2013 to July 2016. The START-ART implementation took place from June 2013 to June 2015 while the sustainability period was from August 2015 to July 2016.Results: A total of 863 ART-eligible patients were sampled. The median CD4 count was 348 cells/ml (IQR 215-450). During the intervention, 338 (77.4%) eligible patients initiated on ART within 2 weeks compared with 375 (88.2%) during the sustainability period (risk difference 10.8%; 95% CI 5.9-15.8%). In 14 of the 15 health centers, the intervention was sustained. During key informant interviews, rapid ART initiation sustainability was attributed to counseling skills that were obtained during intervention and availability of point-of-care (POC) CD4 PIMA machine. Failure to sustain the intervention was attributed to three specific barriers: lack of training after the intervention, transfer of trained staff to other health facilities, and shortage of supplies like cartridges for POC CD4 PIMA machine.Conclusion: Rapid ART initiation was sustained in most health centers. Skills acquired during the intervention and functional POC CD4 machine facilitated while staff transfers and irregular laboratory supplies were barriers to sustainability of rapid ART initiation.
Variation in the availability and cost of essential medicines for non-communicable diseases in Uganda: A descriptive time series analysis
Digital monitoring technologies could enhance tuberculosis medication adherence in Uganda: Mixed methods study