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Open Access Stigma against tuberculosis may hinder non-household contact investigation: a qualitative study in Thailand

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Setting: A northern province in Thailand.

Objectives: To explore experiences and perspectives on tuberculosis (TB) contact investigations in non-household contacts.

Design: Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with eight groups: three groups of former TB patients (teachers, students and hospital staff) and five groups of representatives from congregate settings such as schools and workplaces. Data were analysed using the modified grounded theory.

Result: Annual health check-ups at the workplace contributed to the early detection of active TB in teachers. Former TB patients were highly exposed to non-household contacts, but contact investigations were limited to household contacts only. Barriers and facilitators for non-household contact investigations are associated with five factors, including information, awareness and knowledge about TB; stigma; empathy; health system response and informing non-household contacts about TB exposure. Stigma may be the main barrier to investigations among non-household contacts because TB patients tend to withhold information about their diagnosis from colleagues. Lack of knowledge and misperceptions regarding TB transmission contributed to stigma. Empathy with other people encouraged TB patients to inform non-household contacts.

Conclusion: Non-household contact investigations are not performed despite the risk of TB transmission. To promote contact investigations in congregate settings, interventions to overcome TB stigma and improve public knowledge about TB transmission are required.
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Keywords: TB; contact investigation; non-household; stigma, qualitative research

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: TB/HIV Research Foundation, Chiang Rai, Thailand 2: Department of Internal Medicine, Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Publication date: March 21, 2019

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  • Public Health Action (PHA), The Union's quarterly open access on-line journal, provides a platform for its mission 'Health solutions for the poor'. PHA addresses the need for show-casing operational research that addresses issues in health systems and services. It publishes high-quality scientific research that provides new knowledge to improve access, equity, quality and efficiency of health systems and services.

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