A synthesis of qualitative evidence of barriers and facilitators in implementing guidelines for TB testing in healthcare settings


Introduction: The suboptimal case notification rates for tuberculosis (TB) globally could partly be due to the poor implementation of TB testing guidelines or policies. We identified, appraised and synthesized qualitative evidence exploring the barriers and facilitators to implementing TB testing guidelines.

Methods: We searched electronic databases and grey literature and included studies based on predefined inclusion criteria (PROSPERO registered protocol CRD42016039790) until 9th February 2023. We used the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tool to assess the methodological quality of the included studies. Two authors reviewed the search output, extracted data and assessed methodological quality independently, resolving disagreements by consensus. We used the Supporting the Use of Research Evidence framework to identify themes and analyse and synthesize our data. We applied the Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative Research approach to assess the confidence of the review findings.

Results: Our search output was 6976 articles, from which we included 25 qualitative studies, mostly from low- and middle-income countries (n=19) and about national guidelines (n=22). All studies were from healthcare settings. Most barriers revolved around health system constraints involving the guidelines (low trust and adherence, ambiguous and poorly developed or adapted guidelines) and poorly resourced and organized health facilities to enable the implementation of the guidelines. Individual-level barriers included low trust and low awareness among recipients and providers of care. Donor dependence was the main socio-political constraint. These barriers were similar across all income settings except poorly resourced health facilities and social and political constraints which were only reported in low- and middle-income settings. The reported facilitators were improved trust and knowledge of guidelines, national leadership support and availability of training tools and opportunities for guidelines across all income settings. We had high confidence in most of the review findings.

Conclusion: Limited guideline knowledge, trust and adherence related to poorly developed and disseminated guidelines in all income settings and poorly resourced facilities in low- and middle-income countries hinder the implementation of TB testing guidelines. This could be improved by better guideline training and adaptation and resourcing of health facilities.

Trial registration: The protocol of this review was registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO), registration number CRD42016039790, and published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Keywords: Algorithms; Barriers; Facilitators; Testing guidelines; Tuberculosis; Tuberculosis testing.


Karanja, P. W., Mulaku, M. N., & Ochodo, E. A. (2024). A synthesis of qualitative evidence of barriers and facilitators in implementing guidelines for TB testing in healthcare settings. Implementation science communications5(1), 30. https://doi.org/10.1186/s43058-024-00565-0

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