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Background: Sharing tasks with lower cadre workers may help ease the burden of work on the constrained nursing workforce in low- and middle-income countries but the quality and safety issues associated with shifting tasks are rarely critically evaluated. This research explored this gap using a Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) method as a novel approach to address this gap and inform task sharing policies in neonatal care settings in Kenya. Methods: We used Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) and the Systematic Human Error Reduction and Prediction Approach (SHERPA) to analyse and identify the nature and significance of potential errors of nasogastric tube (NGT) feeding in a neonatal setting and to gain a preliminary understanding of informal task sharing. Results: A total of 47 end tasks were identified from the HTA. Sharing, supervision and risk levels of these tasks reported by subject matter experts (SMEs) varied broadly. More than half of the tasks (58.3%) were shared with mothers, of these, 31.7% (13/41) and 68.3% were assigned a medium and low level of risk by the majority (≥4) of SMEs respectively. Few tasks were reported as 'often missed' by the majority of SMEs. SHERPA analysis suggested omission was the commonest type of error, however, due to the low risk nature, omission would potentially result in minor consequences. Training and provision of checklists for NGT feeding were the key approaches for remedying most errors. By extension these strategies could support safer task shifting. Conclusion: Inclusion of mothers and casual workers in care provided to sick infants is reported by SMEs in the Kenyan neonatal settings. Ergonomics methods proved useful in working with Kenyan SMEs to identify possible errors and the training and supervision needs for safer task-sharing.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Nurs

Publication Date





Ergonomics, Nasogastric tube feeding, Quality and safety, Task analysis