Acceptability of video observed treatment vs. directly observed treatment for tuberculosis: a comparative analysis between South and Central India

Publication Year 27 Nov 2023

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Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) is a requirement in the management of Tuberculosis (TB) globally. With the transition from alternate day treatment to daily treatment in India, monitoring treatment adherence through DOT is a logistic challenge. The pervasiveness of mobile phones in India provides a unique opportunity to address this challenge remotely. This study was designed to compare the acceptability of mobile phones for antitubercular treatment (ATT) support in two distinct regions of India.
This was a cross-sectional exploratory study that enrolled 351 patients with TB, of whom 185 were from Bangalore, South India, and 166 from Ujjain, Central India. Trained research assistants administered a pretested questionnaire comprising demographics, phone usage patterns, and acceptability of mobile phone technology to support treatment adherence to TB medicines.
The mean age of the 351 participants was 32±13.6 years of whom 140 (40%) were women. Of the participants, 259 (74%) were urban, 221 (63%) had >4 years of education. A significantly greater number of participants were newly diagnosed with TB and were in the intensive phase of treatment. Overall, 218 (62%) preferred vDOT over DOT. There was an overall difference in preference between the two sites which is explained by differences in socio-economic variables.
Mobile phone adherence support is acceptable to patients on Antitubercular treatment ATT with minor variations in design based on demographic and cultural differences. In India, the preference for voice calls over text messages/SMS while designing mHealth interventions cannot be ignored. Of importance is the preference for DOT over vDOT in central India, unlike South India. However, in time, the expanding use of mobile technology supplemented with counseling, could overcome the barriers of privacy and stigma and promote the transition from in-person DOT to vDOT or mobile phone adherence monitoring and support for ATT in India.