BACKGROUND: Management for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is challenging and has poor patient outcomes. Peru has a high burden of MDR-TB. The Loreto region in the Peruvian Amazon is worst affected for reasons including high rates of poverty and poor healthcare access. Current evidence identifies factors that influence MDR-TB medication adherence, but there is limited understanding of the patient and healthcare professional (HCP) perspective, the HCP-patient relationship and other factors that influence outcomes. A qualitative investigation was conducted to explore and compare the experiences and perceptions of MDR-TB patients and their dedicated HCPs to inform future management strategies.
METHOD: Twenty-six, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 15 MDR-TB patients and 11 HCPs who were purposively recruited from 4 of the worst affected districts of Iquitos (capital of the Loreto region). Field notes and transcripts of the two groups were analysed separately using thematic content analysis. Ethics approval was received from the Institutional Research Ethics Committee, Department of Health, Loreto, and the University of Birmingham Internal Research Ethics Committee.
RESULTS: Four key themes influencing patient outcomes emerged in each participant group: personal patient factors, external factors, clinical factors, and the HCP-patient relationship. Personal factors included high standard patient and population knowledge and education, which can facilitate engagement with treatment by encouraging belief in evidence-based medicine, dispelling belief in natural medicines, health myths and stigma. External factors included the adverse effect of the financial impact of MDR-TB on patients and their families. An open, trusting and strong HCP-patient relationship emerged as a vitally important clinical factor influencing of patient outcomes. The results also provide valuable insight into the dynamic of the relationship and ways in which a good relationship can be fostered.
CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the importance of financial support for patients, effective MDR-TB education and the role of the HCP-patient relationship. These findings add to the existing evidence base and provide insight into care improvements and policy changes that could improve outcomes if prioritised by local and national government.
- Healthcare professional
- Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis