Juli 10, 2024

Community Voices Shaping TB Research in Vietnam 

A recent publication by OUCRU researchers, published in the journal Public Health Action, highlights the importance of community engagement in TB research.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant public health challenge in Vietnam and globally. To effectively combat this disease, it’s crucial to involve the communities most affected by TB in the research process. 

At OUCRU, the establishment of a TB Community Advisory Group, composed of healthy volunteers and TB survivors, creates an open dialogue between researchers and the community, exploring perspectives on TB and human sample donation for research. The researchers found that participants possessed a good understanding of TB transmission, symptoms, and treatment, emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis. 

Interestingly, the study revealed valuable insights into community preferences regarding TB screening methods, preferring chest X-rays and blood tests over sputum tests for TB screening. This preference stems from two primary reasons: 

  • Ease of Sample Collection: Participants considered chest X-rays and blood tests more convenient as they could be easily integrated with routine health checkups. Conversely, sputum collection was perceived as challenging and unpleasant. 
  • Fear of Infection: Some participants associated hospital visits with an increased risk of TB exposure. They preferred minimizing hospital visits, even if it meant providing more blood samples, as they perceived blood draws as less risky than entering a TB ward for sputum collection. 

These insights underscore the importance of considering community perspectives when designing TB control programs. Opting for more acceptable screening methods like chest X-rays or blood tests, even if they require additional resources, might improve screening rates and patient satisfaction. Additionally, addressing concerns about infection risk during hospital visits is crucial to encourage participation in TB care. 

First author Dr Le Hong Van commented: “It is necessary for researchers to respect community’s perspectives as they constitute both the subjects of study and the recipients of study findings”.  

This engagement with the community is a part of OUCRU’s ongoing commitment to building and sustaining community engagement in TB research. By incorporating community voices, OUCRU aims to conduct research that is not only scientifically rigorous but also ethically sound and responsive to the needs of the communities it serves. 

To learn more about the study and its implications, visit the article.   

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