Document Type : Original Article
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Government Medical College Bhavnagar, Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University, Bhavnagar, India
Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College Bhavnagar, Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University, Bhavnagar, India
A direct benefit transfer (DBT) program was launched to address the dual epidemic of under-nutrition and tuberculosis (TB) in India. We conducted this study to determine whether non-receipt of DBT was associated with unfavorable treatment outcomes among patients with TB and to explore the perspectives of patients and program functionaries regarding the program.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study among 426 patients with drug-sensitive pulmonary TB on treatment during January-September 2019 to determine the association between non-receipt of DBT and unfavorable treatment outcomes, which was followed by indepth interviews of nine patients and eight program functionaries to explore their perspectives on challenges and suggestions regarding the DBT program. Multivariate logistic regression was applied to determine whether non-receipt of DBT was independently associated with unfavorable treatment outcomes, while the in-depth interviews were transcribed to describe them as codes and categories.
Among the 426 patients, nine percent of the patients did not receive DBT and 91% completed their treatment. Non-receipt of DBT was associated with a 5 (95% CI: 2-12) times higher odds of unfavorable treatment outcomes on multivariable analysis. Patients not owning a bank account was the primary challenge perceived by the program staff. The patients perceived the assistance under DBT to be insufficient to buy nutritious food throughout the course of treatment. The program functionaries as well as the patients suggested increasing the existing assistance under DBT along with the provision of a monthly nutritious food-kit.
Direct benefit transfer improved the treatment completion rates among patients with TB in our setting. Provision of a monthly nutritious food-kit with an increase in the existing assistance under DBT might further improve the treatment outcomes. Future research should determine the long-term financial sustainability for ‘DBT plus food-kit’ vs. universal cash transfers in India.