Tuberculosis remains an important disease which mainly affects the majority of vulnerable individuals in society, who are subjected to poor living conditions and difficulties to access the services of public health. Under these circumstances, the present study aims to understand patients’ perception in relation to the influence of individual and social vulnerabilities on the adherence to tuberculosis treatment.
A qualitative descriptive cross sectional study was conducted in one large municipality at the state of Paraíba, Northeast of Brazil. The study subjects, who were residents of the study site, covered all tuberculosis cases diagnosed between March and June 2015. The sample was defined by the criteria of response saturation. All interviews were audio recorded, and data analysis was developed through the hermeneutic dialectic method and the theory of Generative Route Sense. The project was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the University of São Paulo (USP).
A total of 13 individuals were interviewed and the responses were identified into two analytical categories: the difficulties they had and the enabling factors they could mention during their tuberculosis treatment. Patients brought up social exclusion as an obstacle to treatment adherence, which, along with stigmatization, weakened their link with family members and health professionals. Moreover, economic precariousness was a major hindrance to the maintenance of a proper diet and transportation access to health centers. However, social support and directly observed treatment helped to break down barriers of prejudice and to promote individual and family empowerment. Finally, patients also reported that their will to live and faith gave them the strength to continue with the treatment.
According to patients in this study, social support and the strengthening of links with family members and health professionals may reduce social exclusion and other difficulties they face, thus encouraging them to the adhere to tuberculosis treatment.