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Implementation fidelity of hospital based directly observed therapy for tuberculosis treatment in Bhutan: mixed-method study

Background: Direct observed treatment (DOT) has been implemented in Bhutan since 1997 and currently, it is
offered in various model of delivery including a combination of hospital based, home based DOT and ambulatory
DOT. Overall, treatment success rate for tuberculosis cases is higher than the global target; however, it is still need
to be improved. Evaluation to the implementation fidelity of DOT is important to identify potential rooms for
improvement. This study aimed to assess two major components of the program’s implementation fidelity: to
assess patient’s adherence to DOT and explore factors for adherence; to assess provider’s compliance with DOT
guideline and explore factors for compliance.

Methods: This research used a sequential explanatory mixed method. The conceptual framework of implementation
fidelity was adopted to guide this study design. The cross-sectional study of TB patients was enrolled in two hospitals
with highest TB load, between September to November 2017 in Bhutan. Interviewer assisted survey was conducted
with 139 TB patients who visited the hospital in continuation phase. In-depth interview was then conducted with nine TB patients and four health staffs to explore the barriers and enablers of DOT.

Results: Total of 61.9% (86/139) of patients has received DOT at intensive phase. Proportion was higher among MDRTB cases (100%), and smear sputum positive TB cases (84.7%). In the continuation phase, 5.8% of patients took medicine at hospital, 48.9% at home and the rest 45.3% no longer practiced DOT. More than 90% of patient received correct dosage and standard regimen of anti-TB drugs according to the guideline. The key factors affecting poor adherence to DOT as perceived by patients were; lack of willingness to visit the clinic on daily basis due to long
distance, financial implications and family support. However, patient’s satisfaction to the quality of TB treatment service delivery was high (98.6%). Providing incentives to the patient was most agreed enabler felt by both health workers and patients.

Conclusion: In the selected hospital sites, the patient’s adherence to DOT and provider’s compliance with DOT
guideline is partially implemented; the coverage and the duration of DOT is very low, therefore, need to revise and
improve DOT model and structure. Dorji_et_al-2020-BMC_Public_Health