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Open Access Early interactions with newly diagnosed TB patients in hospital can support linkage to care

BACKGROUND: In South Africa, failure to link individuals diagnosed with TB to care remains an important gap in the TB care cascade. Compared to people diagnosed at primary healthcare (PHC) facilities, people diagnosed in hospitals are more likely to require additional support to be linked with PHC TB treatment services. We describe a patient interaction process to support linkage to TB care.

METHODS: We implemented a step-by-step early patient interaction process with 84 adults newly diagnosed with TB in one district hospital in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa (August 2020–March 2021). We confirmed patient contact details, provided TB and health information, shared information on accessing care at PHC facilities and answered patients’ questions in their home language.

RESULTS: Most patients (54/84, 64%) provided updated telephone numbers, and 19/84 (23%) reported changes in their physical address. Patients welcomed practical and health information in their home language. The majority (74/84, 88%) were linked to care after hospital discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: A simple early patient interaction process implemented as part of routine care is a feasible strategy to facilitate early TB treatment initiation and registration.

Keywords: TB cascade; linkage to care; patient engagement; tuberculosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa 2: Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, School of Human Sciences, Faculty of Education, Health and Human Sciences, University of Greenwich, Greenwich, UK

Publication date: September 21, 2022

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