13.4 Patient education and support

Patient education and support require the involvement of the entire healthcare team (clinicians, nurses, treatment supporters, social workers, etc.). In large-scale programmes, the healthcare team sometimes includes trained counsellors who provide information and support.

Treatment education and support may be provided through various channels: organising educational sessions during in-facility or home visits, video and telephone contacts.

Patient education and support are required throughout treatment, as adherence may vary over time and patients may experience phases of treatment acceptance and rejection.

Due to the toxicity and long duration of treatment, patients on DR-TB treatment usually require substantial support.

13.4.1 Patient education

Patient education consists of:

  • Helping patients to understand the disease and treatment.
  • Enabling patients to acquire and maintain skills that allow them to manage their treatment and disease in their everyday lives.
  • Answering patients’ questions throughout the treatment.

For more information see Appendix 21.

13.4.2 Emotional support

Listen to patients and give them encouragement, so that they feel comfortable saying they have forgotten or have made a mistake with their treatment. This is common, and it is important to know so that solutions can be found.

Psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety are frequent, and may have a negative impact on adherence. The healthcare team should be sensitised to their early detection and management.

13.4.3 Social support

Implement social support measures for patients with limited resources. Depending on the situation and specific needs of patients:

  • Social workers can help to obtain disability allowances, housing assistance, shelter for the homeless, etc.
  • The programme can provide meals or food, vouchers or money for transportation or reimburse the cost, etc.