The role of counselling in tuberculosis diagnostic evaluation and contact tracing: scoping review and stakeholder consultation of knowledge and research gaps
Foster I., Sullivan A., Makanda G., Schoeman I., Tisile P., van der Westhuizen H-M., Theron G., Nathavitharana RR.
Abstract Background Tuberculosis (TB) care cascade analyses show large gaps at early stages, including care-seeking and diagnostic evaluation, where promising interventions to decrease attrition are urgently needed. Person-centered care is prioritized in the World Health Organization’s End TB strategy; yet little is known about how it is delivered and can be optimized. Recommendations for counselling, a core component of person-centered care, are largely limited to its role in improving TB treatment adherence. The role of counselling to close key diagnostic gaps in the care cascade is poorly understood. Methods We conducted a scoping review to identify evidence on the use of counselling at TB diagnosis, for both people with presumptive TB and index patients to promote patient retention and contact tracing. Using search terms for TB, diagnosis and counselling, we systematically searched PubMed, EMBASE and Web of Science. Two independent reviewers screened all abstracts, full-texts, extracted data and conducted a quality assessment. We used thematic analysis to identify key themes. Results After screening 1785 articles, we extracted data from 15 studies and determined that the major themes best corresponded to the following gaps in the TB care cascade: care-seeking, pre-diagnosis, and pre-treatment. Studies were conducted across varied settings including pharmacies, primary health centres, and clinics, primarily in high TB incidence countries. No study directly evaluated the impact of counselling on outcomes such as treatment initiation or retention in care. Included studies suggested counselling may play an important role in improving the uptake of diagnostic testing and contact tracing. Barriers to counselling included time and personnel requirements. Stakeholder consultation emphasized the importance of high-quality counselling as a core tenet of TB care. Conclusion Data on the impact of counselling to improve TB case detection are absent from the literature. The shift towards person-centred care for TB presents an opportunity to incorporate counselling during earlier stages of the TB care cascade; however, evidence-based approaches are needed. Implementation research is needed to operationalize and evaluate counselling to strengthen high-quality TB care delivery.