Factors affecting ability of TB patients to follow treatment guidelines – applying a capability approach



Negotiating anti-Tuberculosis treatment is a complicated process comprising daily consumption of multiple medications at stipulated times and dosages, as well as periodic follow-ups and investigations, may not be uniform for all Tuberculosis (TB) patients and some may perform better than others. In this context, we conducted a study in Thiruvananthapuram district, Kerala to ascertain the ability of those suffering from TB to follow treatment guidelines.


This study used an embedded mixed methods design. We collected cross-sectional data from 135 drug sensitive pulmonary TB patients aged 18 years or above in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala using a structured questionnaire to get the proportion of patients following all treatment guidelines. We also did eight in-depth interviews (four men and four women) from within the survey sample. The in-depth interviews were inductively analysed for getting deeper insights about reasons for the choices people made regarding the treatment guidelines. Written informed consent was taken from all participants and the study was implemented after the necessary programmatic and ethical clearances.


Of the 105 men and 30 women studied, uninterrupted daily drug consumption was reported by 80 persons (59.3%, 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) 50.8-67.2%). Overall, 38 (28.2%, 95% CI 21.3%-36.3%) persons were able to follow all seven aspects of advised guidelines. Living in an extended/ joint family (Adjusted Odds ratio (AOR) 2.6, 95% CI 1.1-6.0), approximate monthly household expenditure of over rupees 13,500 (AOR 2.9, 95% CI 1.3–6.7) and no perceived delay in seeking initial care (AOR 3.2, 95% CI 1.2–8.7) were significantly associated with following all aspects of treatment guidelines. In-depth interviews revealed reflective treatment related behaviours were influenced by bodily experiences, moral perceptions, social construct of TB, programmatic factors and substance use. Sometimes behaviours were non-reflective also. Programmatic stress was on individual agency for changing behaviour but capability and opportunity for these were influenced social aspects like stigma, gender roles and poverty.


TB patients live amidst a syndemic of biomedical and social problems. These problems influence the capabilities and opportunities of such TB patients to follow treatment guidelines. Interventions should balance focus on individual agency and social abd economic factors.


Chandru, B. A., & Varma, R. P. (2023). Factors affecting ability of TB patients to follow treatment guidelines–applying a capability approach. International Journal for Equity in Health22(1), 176.
Geographies India

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