Hirsch-Moverman, Yael, et al. “Improving Child Tuberculosis Contact Identification and Screening in Lesotho: Results from a Mixed-Methods Cluster-Randomized Implementation Science Study.” PLOS ONE, vol. 16, no. 5, 2021, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0248516.
Background: Child tuberculosis (TB) contact management is recommended for preventing TB in children but its implementation is suboptimal in high TB/HIV-burden settings. The PREVENT Study was a mixed-methods, clustered-randomized implementation study that evaluated the effectiveness and acceptability of a community-based intervention (CBI) to improve child TB contact management in Lesotho, a high TB burden country.
Methods: Ten health facilities were randomized to CBI or standard of care (SOC). CBI holistically addressed the complex provider-, patient-, and caregiver-related barriers to prevention of childhood TB. Routine TB program data were abstracted from TB registers and cards for all adult TB patients aged >18 years registered during the study period, and their child contacts. Primary outcome was yield (number) of child contacts identified and screened per adult TB patient. Generalized linear mixed models tested for differences between study arms. CBI acceptability was assessed via semi-structured in-depth interviews with a purposively selected sample of 20 healthcare providers and 28 caregivers. Qualitative data were used to explain and confirm quantitative results. We used thematic analysis to analyze the data.
Results: From 01/2017-06/2018, 973 adult TB patients were recorded, 490 at CBI and 483 at SOC health facilities; 64% male, 68% HIV-positive. At CBI and SOC health facilities, 216 and 164 child contacts were identified, respectively (p = 0.16). Screening proportions (94% vs. 62%, p = 0.13) were similar; contact yield per TB case (0.40 vs. 0.20, p = 0.08) was higher at CBI than SOC health facilities, respectively. CBI was acceptable to caregivers and healthcare providers.
Conclusion: Identification and screening for TB child contacts were similar across study arms but yield was marginally higher at CBI compared with SOC health facilities. CBI scale-up may enhance the ability to reach and engage child TB contacts, contributing to efforts to improve TB prevention among children.