- Assessing the consequences of stigma for tuberculosis patients in urban zambia
- PLoS One
- Volume | Issue number
- 10 | 3
- Article number
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Background: Stigma is one of the many factors hindering tuberculosis (TB) control by negatively affecting hospital delay and treatment compliance. In Zambia, the morbidity and mortality due to TB remains high, despite extended public health attempts to control the epidemic and to diminish stigma.
Study Aim: To enhance understanding of TB-related stigmatizing perceptions and to describe TB patients’ experiences of stigma in order to point out recommendations to improve TB policy.
Methods: We conducted a mixed method study at Kanyama clinic and surrounding areas, in Lusaka, Zambia; structured interviews with 300 TB patients, multiple in-depth interviews with 30 TB patients and 10 biomedical health workers, 3 focus group discussions with TB patients and treatment supporters, complemented by participant observation and policy analysis of the TB control program. Predictors of stigma were identified by use of multivariate regression analyses; qualitative analysis of the in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation was used for triangulation of the study findings.
Results: We focused on the 138/300 patients that described TB-related perceptions and attitudes, of whom 113 (82%) reported stigma. Stigma provoking TB conceptions were associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infection, alleged immoral behaviour, (perceived) incurability, and (traditional) myths about TB aetiology. Consequences of stigma prevailed both among children and adults and included low self-esteem, insults, ridicule, discrimination, social exclusion, and isolation leading to a decreased quality of life and social status, non-disclosure, and/or difficulties with treatment compliance and adherence. Women had significantly more stigma-related problems than men.
Conclusions: The findings illustrate that many TB patients faced stigma-related issues, often hindering effective TB control and suggesting that current efforts to reduce stigma are not yet optimal. The content and implementation of sensitization programs should be improved and more emphasis needs to be placed on women and children.
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