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Patient perceived barriers to surgical follow-up: Study of 6-month post-operative trichiasis surgery follow-up in Tanzania
Background Post-surgical follow-up is a challenge in low- and middle-income countries. Understanding barriers to trachomatous trichiasis (TT) surgical follow-up can inform program improvements. In this study, patient perceived barriers and enabling factors to follow-up after TT surgery are identified. Methods A longitudinal study was carried out in a community-based cohort of persons who received TT surgery in Bahi district, Tanzania. Questionnaires were administered before TT surgery and again after the scheduled 6-month follow-up. Those who did not return were examined at their homes. Results At baseline, 852 participants were enrolled. Of these, 633 (74%) returned at 6 months and 128 (15%) did not and were interviewed at home. Prior to surgery, attenders were more likely to report familiarity with a community health worker (CHW) (22% vs. 14%; p = 0.01) and less likely to state that time constraints are a potential reason for failure to follow-up (66% vs. 74%; p = .04). At follow-up, non-attenders were more likely to endorse barriers pertaining to knowledge about the need for follow-up, lack of transportation, and satisfaction with surgery. There was no difference in post-operative TT between attenders and non-attenders (23% vs. 18% respectively; p = 0.25). Conclusions The outcome of surgery was not a barrier to follow-up. However, better integration of CHWs into their communities and work at coordinating post-surgical care may improve follow-up rates. Moreover, provision of transportation and implementation of effective reminder systems may address patient-perceived barriers to improve follow-up.
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