Factors contributing to poor performance of Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) in Mopani District, Limpopo Province, South Africa

13 Jun 2012

The purpose of the study was to assess factors contributing to poor performance of Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) in Mopani district of Limpopo Province, South Africa. An exploratory qualitative approach was used to investigate the factors that contribute to poor performance of the DOTS Strategy. Four focus group discussions were conducted, two with Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) Supporters and two with patients on treatment for more than 6 months. The focus groups (4) discussions were tape-recorded. Data collected were descriptively analyzed using thematic methods. The patients generally found supervision of TB treatment helpful as they were motivated and encouraged to continue treatment. Some of the aspects identified as being unhelpful were the inconvenient times for treatment support and stigma due TB supporters’ visit to patients home. Patients often preferred family members as supporters, whereas health workers favoured trained volunteers as DOT supporters. Other factors affecting DOTS were poverty, food shortage, cultural beliefs, and side-effects of the medication. Patients receiving disability grants prefer to remain uncured so as to continue receiving the grant. Behavioural factors seem to play a major role in noncompliance with TB treatment. The findings of the study support the importance of initial counseling and motivation of patients in improving adherence in the programme. Self-motivation was mentioned rather than the motivation from the DOT supporters. Further exploration of alternative DOTS supporters other than trained volunteer demands further investigation.