To systematically assess (i) the effects and safety and (ii) the acceptability of using lay health workers (LHWs) to deliver vaccines and medicines to mothers and children through compact pre-filled autodisable devices (CPADs).
We searched electronic databases and grey literature. For the systematic review of effects and safety, we sought randomised and non-randomised controlled trials, controlled before-after studies and interrupted time series studies. For the systematic review of acceptability, we sought qualitative studies. Two researchers independently carried out data extraction, study quality assessment and thematic analysis of the qualitative data.
No studies met our criteria for the review exploring the effects and safety of using LHWs to deliver CPADs. For the acceptability review, six qualitative studies assessed the acceptability of using LHWs to deliver hepatitis B vaccine, tetanus toxoid vaccine, gentamicin or oxytocin using Uniject™ devices. All studies took place in low- or middle-income countries and explored the perceptions of community members, LHWs, supervisors, health professionals or programme managers. Most of the studies were of low quality. Recipients generally accepted the intervention. Most health professionals were confident that LHWs could deliver the intervention with sufficient training and supervision, but some had problems delivering supervision. The LHWs perceived Uniject™ as effective and important and were motivated by positive responses from the community. However, some LHWs feared the consequences if harm should come to recipients.
Evidence of the effects and safety of using CPADs delivered by LHWs is lacking. Evidence regarding acceptability suggests that this intervention may be acceptable although LHWs may feel vulnerable to blame.