“I got tested at home, the help came to me": acceptability and feasibility of home-based TB testing of household contacts using portable molecular diagnostics in South Africa


Published March, 2021.


The effectiveness of household contact investigations is limited by low referral uptake for clinic-based TB testing by symptomatic household contacts. We qualitatively investigated the acceptability and perceived benefits of home-based TB testing using a portable GeneXpert-I instrument (GX-I) in an urban South African township.


In-depth interviews were conducted with household contacts tested and those that observed testing. Semi-structured interviews explored household contact’s understanding of TB, perceptions of the GX-I device and testing procedures, confidentiality, willingness to refer others, and views on home- vs. clinic-based testing. Focus group discussions with home-based TB testing implementing staff assessed operational considerations for scale-up. Data were analysed using a constant comparison approach to qualitatively evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of home-based TB testing.


Thirty in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted. Observing one’s own sputum being tested resulted in an emergent trust in home-based TB testing, the GX-I device and one’s test results. Home-based TB testing was considered convenient, helped to overcome apathy towards testing and mitigated barriers to clinic-based testing. Perceptions that home-based TB testing contributes to improved household and community health resulted in an emergent theme of alleviation of health insecurities. Operational concerns regarding inadvertent disclosure of one’s diagnosis to household members and time spent in people’s homes were identified.


Home-based TB testing was acceptable and feasible. Individuals expressed belief in the machine by being able to witness the testing process. Though most themes mirrored qualitative studies of home-based HIV testing, the alleviation of health insecurities theme is unique to home-based TB testing. Future research must evaluate the impact of home-based TB testing on case finding yield, time-to-treatment initiation and household outcomes.

Medina-Marino, A., de Vos, L., Bezuidenhout, D., Denkinger, C. M., Schumacher, S. G., Shin, S. S., Stevens, W., Theron, G., van der Walt, M., & Daniels, J. (2021). “I got tested at home, the help came to me”: acceptability and feasibility of home-based TB testing of household contacts using portable molecular diagnostics in South Africa. Tropical medicine & international health : TM & IH26(3), 343–354. https://doi.org/10.1111/tmi.13533


Geographies South Africa

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