Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 1998 Apr; 2(4): 324-9.
Tuberculosis patients and practitioners in private clinics in India.
Foundation for Research in Community Health, Worli, Mumbai, India.
SETTING: Rural and urban areas of Maharashtra, a large state in Western India. OBJECTIVE: To understand tuberculosis (TB) management practices among private medical practitioners (PPs) and the treatment behaviour of the patients they manage. DESIGN: Prospective study of help-seeking patterns and treatment behaviour among 173 pulmonary TB patients diagnosed in private clinics, and the TB management practices of 122 PPs treating these patients. RESULTS: The first source of help for 86% of patients was a PP. The diagnostic and treatment practices of PPs were inadequate; 15% did not consider sputum examination to be necessary, and 79 different treatment regimens were prescribed by 105 reporting PPs. Sixty-seven percent of the patients diagnosed in private clinics remained with the private sector, and the rest shifted to public health services within six months of treatment. The treatment adherence rate among the patients in private clinics was 59%. There were discrepancies between the reported management practices of the PPs and what their patients actually followed. CONCLUSION: The study identifies and highlights the need to educate PPs and their TB patients, and indicates ways in which PPs could be meaningfully involved in efforts to revitalize the national TB control programme.