Title : Exploring the barriers and facilitators influencing the decision to seek non-conventional treatments for tuberculosis - A qualitative study with people affected by tuberculosis in Pakistan
Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is a significant public health problem and the thirteenth leading cause of death worldwide despite being preventable and curable. Non-adherence to conventional TB treatment underpins this statistic. In Pakistan, there is poor uptake of, and adherence to, conventional TB treatment. Non-conventional treatments are also favored generally, with more than 50% of the Pakistani population using non-conventional treatments for various medical conditions. However, reporting on the use and success of non-conventional treatments for TB is lacking, resulting in a knowledge gap as the impacts and outcomes of opting for non-conventional treatments are largely unknown. This study aimed to address this gap by interviewing people who are affected by TB on their views on, experiences with, and motivations for, the use of non-conventional treatments for TB.
Design/methods: This was an exploratory qualitative study, where participants were recruited through purposive sampling from a TB center in Karachi, Pakistan. Data was generated through semi-structured interviews from 12 participants, and was analyzed using inductive thematic analysis.
Results: In this study, non-conventional treatment use for TB was limited to spiritual healing, which was used concomitantly with conventional treatment. Furthermore, people who visited non-conventional healers, like naturopaths and Unani medicine practitioners, for their TB symptoms before the TB diagnosis, reported receiving a misdiagnosis and subsequently an inappropriate treatment from these non-conventional healers.
Conclusion: Considering the findings of this study, the concurrent use of non-conventional treatment for TB did not seem to have a negative impact on adherence to conventional treatment. However, prior misdiagnosis by non-conventional healers for TB symptoms indicates a need to form referral linkages with these healers for timely diagnosis and correct treatment of TB.
Audience Take Away Notes:
- The audience will learn whether there is an inclination to use non-conventional treatment as an alternative to, or concomitantly with, conventional TB treatment in Pakistan
- The audience will learn what influences people to take decisions about taking conventional and non-conventional treatments for TB
- The audience will learn whether and how the non-conventional treatment uptake for TB impacts adherence to conventional treatment, as thus, health outcomes
- The above learnings can help decide what gaps need to be filled in terms of conventional TB treatment delivery as well as TB awareness-raising among general population as well as practitioners (specifically, non-conventional practitioners)
- While the findings of this study are specific to Pakistan, the audience may take this learning and implement similar research in their countries to identify whether non-conventional and conventional treatments are competitors in the area of TB, and if so, what impact (negative/positive) does this have on health outcomes