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Free Content Attitudes towards involuntary incarceration for tuberculosis: a survey of Union members

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BACKGROUND: Policies involving the use of involuntary incarceration for tuberculosis (TB) are highly ethically controversial. To encourage ethical reflection within the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), the Ethics Advisory Group (EAG) surveyed members regarding their attitudes and values relating to involuntary incarceration for TB.

METHODS: Members of the Union TB section were invited to respond to an anonymous web-based survey. The survey included both multiple choice questions describing a range of scenarios regarding involuntary incarceration, and free-text fields inviting respondents to provide general comments on ethical issues.

RESULTS: The survey was completed by 194 participants, 33 (17%) of whom were opposed to involuntary incarceration on principle. The age and sex of the respondents was not associated with likelihood of principled opposition; respondents from North America were least likely to be opposed to involuntary incarceration (P = 0.02). Respondents were most likely to consider involuntary incarceration for persons with known multidrug-resistant TB or a history of previous treatment default, and least likely where people lived alone, were university-educated or the main income provider for their families.

CONCLUSION: This survey found a wide range of viewpoints regarding involuntary incarceration, and highlights a number of key elements in ethical engagement with the tensions surrounding involuntary incarceration. We provide commentary on approaches to ethical policy making in the light of these findings.
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Keywords: ethics; human rights; incarceration; transmission; tuberculosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Ethics Advisory Group, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France; Victorian Infectious Disease Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital, at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Parkville, Victoria, Australia 2: Health and Human Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, New York, New York, USA 3: Ethics Advisory Group, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France 4: Ethics Advisory Group, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Paris, France; The Epidemiology Laboratory (Epi-Lab), Khartoum, Sudan

Publication date: February 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on lung health world-wide.

    To share scientific research of immediate concern as rapidly as possible, The Union is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles from the IJTLD and publishing them on The Union website, prior to their publication in the Journal. Read fast-track articles.

    Certain IJTLD articles are also selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. These are available on the Union website.

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