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New study demonstrates feasibility of conducting routine post-TB assessments in China

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The Union, in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis in Baltimore, USA, and TB doctors in five clinics in China, has just completed and published a study to assess the feasibility of conducting post-tuberculosis assessments at the end of anti-TB treatment under routine programmatic conditions in China.

For many years The Union has been interested in and supportive of TB survivors. Given the considerable morbidity that persists in many patients at the end of successfully completing anti-TB treatment, The Union has for a long time advocated for better attention to be paid to this subject.

Five TB clinics/hospitals in different provinces in China were invited and agreed to participate in the study. Without additional resources or support, the established staff undertook an assessment of patients as they completed anti-TB treatment between April and June 2021. Of 151 patients successfully completing treatment, 115 (76%) were full assessed with respect to on-going symptoms, co-morbidities, determinants, and investigations including an end-of treatment chest radiograph and a six-minute walking test.

Key findings were as follows. Nearly half of the patients had on-going symptoms (mainly cough, shortness of breath and fatigue), 20% had diabetes mellitus, 10% continued to smoke cigarettes, over 90% had an abnormal chest radiograph and 21% walked less than 400 meters in six minutes. It took an average of 21 minutes to complete the standard questionnaire and the six-minute walking test. In all but two of the patients who completed the assessment, the attending health care workers stated that the assessments were feasible and useful.

This was the first study in China to undertake such post-TB assessments under routine programmatic conditions. Despite some limitations, the study showed that this can be done and that there is significant morbidity that needs to be addressed if we are to honour our pledge of providing good quality patient-centred care for all those who develop TB.

For those interested in reading more, the full paper which is published in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease (2021, 6, 164) can be found here: