Perceptions of tuberculosis patients about private providers before and after implementation of Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme

K Jaggarajamma, R Balambal, M Muniyandi, M Vasantha, Beena Thomas, C Nirupa, G Sudha, V Chandrasekaran, Fraser Wares
Indian Journal of Tuberculosis 2009, 56 (4): 185-90

BACKGROUND: Most of the persons with chest symptoms in India approach private providers (PPs) for health care. It has been observed that patients who start treatment with PPs for tuberculosis (TB) frequently switch over subsequently to the public sector. The reasons for this discontinuation and their perceptions of the TB care provided by the PPs are unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To document the perceptions about PPs India's Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) and the reasons for discontinuation of treatment with PPs and subsequent attendance at a public provider.

METHODS: This was a cross sectional study on patients registered under TB programme during 1997 and 2005 in rural and urban areas. During this period patients who were initially diagnosed and treated for TB in a private clinic and subsequently shifted to public health facility were considered for the study. A semi-structured interview schedule was used to collect the factors related to patient's perceptions on PPs, the factors responsible for initiating treatment with PPs, reasons for discontinuing treatment with PPs, and their willingness to continue treatment from government health facilities were collected. This data was compared with data collected in 1997 before implementation of the RNTCP.

RESULTS: A total of 1000 and 1311 TB patients were registered during 1997 and 2005 respectively. Among them, 203 (20%) and 104 (8%) patients were identified as having been initially diagnosed and started on TB treatment by PPs and subsequently shifted to government health facilities. There were significant changes in reasons for selecting PPs between the two periods: being convenient (47% vs 10%; p < 0.001), quality care (41% vs 19%; p < 0.001), motivated by others (49% vs 19%; p < 0.001), confidentiality (19% vs 9%; p < 0.05) and known doctor (6% vs 28%; p < 0.001) respectively. Financial problems were the most common reason for discontinuation of treatment in both periods. The use of sputum test for diagnosing TB by PPs was significantly increased after RNTCP implementation.

CONCLUSION: This study suggests that slowly perceptions of patients have changed towards PPs, and RNTCP has begun to gain acceptance amongst patients in terms of convenience, confidentiality and personal care.

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