Analysis of queries from nurses to the South African National HIV & TB Health Care Worker Hotline

  • AM Swart
  • BS Chisholm
  • K Cohen
  • LJ Workman
  • D Cameron
  • M Blockman


Background. Since 2008, the Medicines Information Centre (MIC) has run the South African National HIV & TB Health Care Worker Hotline which provides free information on patient treatment to all healthcare workers in South Africa. With the introduction of nurse-initiated management of antiretroviral therapy (NIMART) in the public sector, the need for easy access to HIV and tuberculosis (TB) information has increased, especially among nurses. The hotline aims to provide this, most importantly to nurses in rural areas, where clinical staff often have little access to peer review.
Objective. To describe the queries received from nurses by the hotline between 1 March and 31 May 2012 and identify problem areas and knowledge gaps where nurses may require further training.
Methods. All queries received from nurses during the study period were analysed. An experienced information pharmacist reviewed all queries to identify knowledge gaps.
Results. During the study period, the hotline received a total of 1 479 HIV- and TB-related queries from healthcare workers. Of these, 386 were received from nurses, of which 254 (66%) were NIMART-trained. The most common query subtopic was initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) (20%), followed by adverse drug reactions (18%). The most common knowledge gap identified was the ability to interpret laboratory results before initiating ART (10%).
Discussion. We conclude that the hotline is providing clinical help to an increasing number of nurses on the topic of treating HIV and TB throughout South Africa. In addition, queries directed to the hotline may assist in identifying knowledge gaps for the further training of nurses.

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eISSN: 2078-6751
print ISSN: 1608-9693