A National Survey on the Use of Electronic Directly Observed Therapy for Treatment of Tuberculosis

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Abstract

Context:

An increasing number of tuberculosis (TB) programs are adopting electronic directly observed therapy (eDOT), the use of technology to supervise patient adherence remotely. Pilot studies show that treatment adherence and completion were similar with eDOT compared with the standard in-person DOT.

Objective:

In December 2015, the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association administered an online survey to determine the extent to which eDOT is used in the United States.

Participants:

Sixty-eight Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)–funded health department TB programs across the United States and a convenient sample of local health department TB programs.

Results:

Fifty-six (82%) of 68 CDC-funded health department TB programs and an additional 57 local TB programs responded to the survey. Forty-seven (42%) of 113 TB programs are currently using eDOT, 41 (36%) are planning to implement in the next year, and 25 (22%) have no plans to implement eDOT. Of the 47 TB programs using eDOT, 31 (66%) use synchronous video DOT, 4 (9%) asynchronous video DOT, 11 (23%) a combination of both, and 1 (2%) ingestible sensor to conduct electronic observations. Forty-one (87%) indicated that treatment adherence and 40 (85%) indicated that treatment completion were about the same or higher than in-person DOT. More than 80% indicated that eDOT resulted in program cost savings, and almost all (91%) reported benefits in patient and staff satisfaction. However, 25 (53%) of the 47 TB programs that use eDOT encountered technical challenges and 37 (79%) offer eDOT to less than a third of their patients.

Conclusions:

Results from this survey indicate that eDOT is a promising tool that can be utilized to efficiently and effectively manage TB treatment. Findings will inform other TB programs interested in implementing eDOT. However, further evaluation is needed to assess eDOT acceptability to understand barriers to eDOT implementation from the patient and provider perspectives.

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