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Pediatrics. 1997 Aug;100(2 Pt 1):210-3.

Strategies to increase adherence with tuberculosis test reading in a high-risk population.

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  • 1Department of General Pediatrics, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010, USA.



To determine the most effective strategy to encourage adherence with tuberculosis test reading in a high-risk population. Design. Prospective randomized controlled trial.


Consecutive sample of 627 children ages 1 to 12 years due for a tuberculosis (TB) test in an urban children's hospital outpatient department. One child per family was enrolled.


All families received education regarding the importance of skin testing for TB and the need for follow-up, and written and verbal instructions regarding test reading. Families were randomly assigned to one of five strategies for follow-up TB test reading at 48 to 72 hours: 1) routine verbal and written instructions, 2) reminder phone call, 3) transportation tokens and toy on return, 4) withholding of school forms until time of reading and need to repeat TB test if not timely read, 5) parents taught to read induration with nurse home visit. Those who did not have tests read at 48 to 72 hours by a trained professional were phoned 1 week later.


The five groups did not differ with regard to TB risk factor score, maternal education, transportation source, or perceived importance of TB testing. Before the study the follow-up rate of TB test reading by a trained professional was 45%. Reading rates in this study were 58%, 70%, 67%, 70%, and 72% for groups 1 to 5, respectively. In group 4, only 39% had school forms to be completed and their adherence rate was 84% (53/63). Compared to group 1, the only statistically significant improvement was in group 4, especially for those who needed school forms completed, and in group 5. Those not adhering in groups 1 to 4 did not differ from returnees with regard to TB risk factors, maternal education, transportation, or perceived importance of testing. The most common reasons for failing to return included forgetfulness, transportation, and time constraints. Group 5 was stopped early because of difficulty with nurse visits (N = 98). When told of the nurse visit, 9% (9/98) families could not find a time for the visit. Seventeen percent (17/98) were visited but the child was not home, and 7% (7/98) were not visited because of a nurse scheduling problem.


In a high-risk population, adherence with TB test reading is poor. However, education and return of school forms at reading time can significantly improve adherence. Although requiring larger investment in resources, visiting nurses may also aid in test reading.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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