PLoS One. 2021 Mar 10;16(3):e0248408. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0248408. eCollection 2021.
BACKGROUND: Childhood multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) still affects around 25000 children every year across the globe. Though the treatment success rates for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in children are better than adults, children and adolescents face unique hurdles during DR-TB (MDR-TB, Pre-XDR TB and XDR-TB) treatment. This study aimed to understand the patients, guardians and healthcare providers' perspectives about DR-TB treatment journey of patients and caregivers.
METHODS: This is a qualitative study involving in depth-interviews of purposively selected adolescents (n = 6), patients guardians (for children and adolescents, n = 5) and health care providers (n = 8) of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic, Mumbai, India. In-depth face to face interviews were conducted in English or Hindi language using interview guides during September-November 2019. The interviews were audio-recorded after consent. Thematic network analysis was used to summarize textual data. ATLAS.ti (version 7) was used for analysis.
RESULT: The age of adolescent patients ranged from 15-19 years and four were female. Five guardians (of three child and two adolescent patients) and eight healthcare providers (including clinicians- 2, DOT providers-2, counselors-2 and programme managers-2) were interviewed. The overarching theme of the analysis was: Challenging DR-TB treatment journey which consisted of four sub-themes: 1) physical-trauma, 2) emotional-trauma, 3) unavailable social-support and 4) non-adapted healthcare services. Difficulties in compounding of drugs were noted for children while adolescents shared experiences around disruption in social life due to disease and treatment. Most of the patients and caregivers experienced treatment fatigue and burnout during the DR-TB treatment. Participants during interviews gave recommendations to improve care.
DISCUSSION: The TB programmes must consider the patient and family as one unit when designing the package of care for paediatric DR-TB. Child and adolescent friendly services (paediatric-formulations, age-specific counselling tools and regular interaction with patients and caregivers) will help minimizing burnout in patients and caregivers.