Patients’ recommendations for a patient-centred public antiretroviral therapy programme in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal
Background: The South African antiretroviral therapy (ART) programme, which is in its second decade of existence, includes many successes and challenges. This study provides patients’ recommendations to address the challenges they currently experience at four antiretroviral (ARV) clinics based in urban public hospitals in order to provide a patient-centred service.
Objectives: To use patients’ recommendations to develop intervention strategies to improve patients’ experiences of the public ART programme.
Method: A three-stage, sequential, mixed-method study was implemented. Stage 1 recruited five patients from the four sites to formulate and test a structured questionnaire prior to data collection. Stage 2 recruited a stratified random sample of 400 patients (100 from each hospital) to complete the administered structured questionnaire. Stage 3 purposively selected 12 patients (three from each of the four sites) to participate in in-depth audio-recorded interviews using an interview schedule.
Results: The 412 patients prioritised six recommendations, which are as follows: waiting areas should be enclosed to protect patients from the elements (rain, sun, lightening, wind and cold); patients should not have to return their files to the main hospital or ARV clinic themselves; stable patients should collect their ARV drugs every three months; pharmacy opening and closing times should be revised to suit patients’ needs; HIV-positive patient representatives should be elected at each ARV clinic to address patients’ concerns and/or challenges to ensure that the programme could be more patient-centred and ARV clinic operating times should be extended to open later during weekdays and over weekends.
Conclusion: Patients living with HIV have a valuable contribution to make in assessing service delivery and making recommendations to create a patient-centred healthcare environment, which will feasibly increase their adherence to ART.
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