RCT on Sputum Animations

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Background

In Tune for Life in partnership with Interactive Research & Development was asked to design and animate a series of instructional videos to help patients produce adequate sputum samples when getting tested for TB, many patients produce saliva instead ofsputum, which could lead to TB being undetected, increasing the risk of spreading the virus throughout communities.

RCT

A randomised controlled trial was implemented by the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania. The trial analysed 200 presumptive TB cases coughing for more than two weeks who attended the outpatient department of the governmental Municipal Hospital in Mwananyamala (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania). They were randomly assigned to either receive instructions on sputum submission using the video before submission (intervention group, n = 100) or standard of care (control group, n = 100). Sputum samples were examined for volume, quality and presence of acid-fast bacilli by experienced laboratory technicians blinded to study groups.

Results 

Median age was 39.1 years (interquartile range 37.0–50.0); 94 (47%) were females, 106 (53%) were males, and 49 (24.5%) were HIV-infected. We found that the instructional video intervention was associated with detection of a higher proportion of microscopically confirmed cases (56%, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 45.7–65.9%, sputum smear positive patients in the intervention group versus 23%, 95% CI 15.2–32.5%, in the control group, p <0.0001), an increase in volume of specimen defined as a volume ≥3ml (78%, 95% CI 68.6–85.7%, versus 45%, 95% CI 35.0–55.3%, p <0.0001), and specimens less likely to be salivary (14%, 95% CI 7.9–22.4%, versus 39%, 95% CI 29.4–49.3%, p = 0.0001). Older age, but not the HIV status or sex, modified the effectiveness of the intervention by improving it positively. When asked how well the video instructions were understood, the majority of patients in the intervention group reported to have understood the video instructions well (97%). Most of the patients thought the video would be useful in the cultural setting of Tanzania (92%).

Conclusions

Sputum submission instructional videos increased the yield of tuberculosis cases through better quality of sputum samples. If confirmed in larger studies, instructional videos may have a substantial effect on the case yield using sputum microscopy and also molecular tests. This low-cost strategy should be considered as part of the efforts to control TB in resource-limited settings.

Read the published paper here

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