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Patient and community experiences of tuberculosis diagnosis and care within a community-based intervention in Ethiopia: a qualitative study

Tulloch, Olivia, Theobald, Sally ORCID:, Morishita, Fukushi, Datiko, Daniel, Asnake, Girum, Tesema, Tadesse, Jamal, Habiba, Markos, Paulos, Cuevas, Luis ORCID: and Yassin, Mohammed A. (2015) 'Patient and community experiences of tuberculosis diagnosis and care within a community-based intervention in Ethiopia: a qualitative study'. BMC Public Health, Vol 15, e187.

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The Ethiopian TB control programme relies on passive case finding of TB cases. The predominantly rural-based population in Ethiopia has limited access to health facilities creating barriers to TB services. An intervention package aimed to bring TB diagnosis and treatment services closer to communities has been implemented through partnership with health extension workers (HEWs). They undertook advocacy, communication and social mobilization (ACSM) activities, identified symptomatic individuals, collected sputum, prepared smears and fixed slides at community level. Field supervisors supported HEWs by delivering smeared slides to the laboratory, feeding back results to the HEWs and following up smear-negative cases. Patients diagnosed with TB initiated treatment in the community, they were supported by supervisors and HEWs through the local health post. Case notification increased from 64 to 127/100,000 population/year.


This qualitative study assessed community members’ treatment seeking behaviour and their perceptions of the intervention. In-depth interviews (n=36) were undertaken with participants in six districts. Participants were clients of the community-based intervention, currently on TB treatment or those screened negative for TB. Transcripts were translated to English and a thematic analytical framework was developed guided by the different steps symptomatic individuals take within the intervention package. Coding was done and queries run using NVivo software.


Prior to the intervention many patients with chronic cough did not access TB services. Participants described difficulties they faced in accessing district level health facilities that required travel outside their communities. Giving sputum samples and receiving results from within their home communities was appreciated by all participants. The intervention had a high level of acceptability; particularly clear benefits emerged for poor women and men and those too weak to travel. Some participants appeared to prefer a diagnosis of TB, this is likely because receiving a negative smear microscopy result brought further uncertainty and necessitated seeking further investigation.


There is evidence rural populations with high levels of poverty, and in particular women, are at high risk of unmet health needs and undiagnosed TB. Embedding TB services within communities was an acceptable approach for vulnerable groups experiencing poor access to health facilities. In the Ethiopian context this approach can facilitate early diagnosis and improve treatment outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
Subjects: WA Public Health > Health Administration and Organization > WA 546 Local Health Administration. Community Health Services
WF Respiratory System > Tuberculosis > WF 200 Tuberculosis (General)
WF Respiratory System > Tuberculosis > WF 220 Diagnosis. Prognosis
WF Respiratory System > Tuberculosis > WF 310 Therapy
WF Respiratory System > Tuberculosis > WF 315 Diet. Rest. Exercise. Home care
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Lynn Roberts-Maloney
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2015 10:33
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2020 10:59


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