Tuberculosis in medical doctors – a study of personal experiences and attitudes
Background. The concurrent TB and HIV epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa place all healthcare workers (HCWs) at increased risk of exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Aim. This study explores personal experiences, attitudes and perceptions of medical doctors following treatment for TB within the healthcare system.
Method. Sixty-two medical doctors who were diagnosed with and treated for TB during 2007 - 2009 agreed to participate and complete a semi-structured questionnaire.
Results. The response rate was 64.5% (N=40). The mean age of participants was 33.7 years (standard deviation ±10.6). A correct diagnosis
of TB was made within 7 days of clinical presentation in 20% of participants, and was delayed beyond 3 weeks in 52.5%. Non-routine
special investigations and procedures were performed in 26 participants. Complications following invasive procedures were reported by 8 participants. Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) was diagnosed in 4 participants. Nineteen considered defaulting on their treatment because of drug side-effects. The majority (n=36) expressed concerns regarding lack of infection control at the workplace, delays in TB diagnosis and negative attitudes of senior medical colleagues and administrators. Ninety per cent of participants indicated that their personal illness experiences had positively changed their professional approach to patients in their current practice.
Conclusion. The inappropriate delays in diagnosis in a large number of participants, coupled with a number of negative personal perceptions towards their treatment, are cause for concern. The results further amplify the need for improved educational and awareness programmes among all healthcare personnel (including hospital administrators), adherence to national health guidelines, effective infection control measures, pre- and post-employment screening in all HCWs, and changes in attitudes on the part of senior medical colleagues and administrators.
Copyright remains in the Author’s name. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial Works License. Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it [forthcoming].
Material submitted for publication in the SAMJ is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement. The SAMJ does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.
Previously published images
If an image/figure has been previously published, permission to reproduce or alter it must be obtained by the authors from the original publisher and the figure legend must give full credit to the original source. This credit should be accompanied by a letter indicating that permission to reproduce the image has been granted to the author/s. This letter should be uploaded as a supplementary file during submission.