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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 98-104

The pain of pills: The lived experiences of cured tuberculosis patients

Independent Public Health Researcher, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Janmejaya Samal
C/O - Mr Bijaya Ketan Samal, At-Pansapalli, Po-Bangarada, Via-Gangapur, Ganjam - 761 123, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jalh.jalh_7_22

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Background: Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a major public health threat in India. Management of TB requires intake of multiple pills during the entire treatment period with strong repugnance by the patients and the family members as well. Objective: The main objective was to understand the difficulties and challenges faced by TB patients while undergoing TB treatment. Materials and Methods: Cured TB patients from urban slums in one of the cities of Chhattisgarh were interviewed in depth by the help of an open-ended semi-structured questionnaire. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subsequently underwent an inductive thematic analysis. Results: Of the 12 study participants, 25% constituted female patients; 16.6% constituted relapse cases; 16.6%, 8.3%, and 75% of the cases were diagnosed through chest X-ray, cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test, and sputum examination, respectively. All the cases belong to an urban slum and are pulmonary TB cases. Two major thematic areas and 2 sub-themes were identified; (a) Pain of Pills (1. Load of pills, 2. Adverse effects of anti-TB drugs) and (b) Social Stigma (1. Concealment of treatment status, 2. Concealment of treatment success). Owing to the long duration of treatment, TB patients develop strong aversion toward pills and wish to complete the treatment before prescribed time-limit. Despite the progress made, TB patients are still being stigmatized in communities and many TB sufferers neither want to share their status as TB patients nor want to share the treatment success in their neighborhood. Sometimes, these patients feel exhausted, isolated and live with solitude with self-discrimination. Conclusion: Health-care workers should be compassionate toward the stigma and aversion for treatment that becomes a part of many TB patient's life.

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