Tanzania ERASE-TB team host retention meeting with study participants
ERASE-TB Study participants
Participation in a clinical study is a voluntary process and so naturally, all participants have the right to leave any time, which can of course happen for unavoidable reasons. However, by establishing good communication channels with local communities, involving them as study partners with a voice, the possibility of their leaving can be minimised. Participant retention is so important in ensuring that the study remains on track and progresses smoothly. All our three sites strive to do this through bespoke community engagement programmes.
Colleagues in Tanzania demonstrated how this can be done by recently organising a well-attended Retention Meeting (August 2022) designed to emphasise the vital role the study participants play, to hear any opinions or concerns, and to impress upon them the importance of adhering to their appointment schedule.
The meeting included ERASE-TB study participants (both Index Cases and Household Contacts) from the Songwe and Mbeya regions who met with seven of our ERASE-TB study staff, to hear presentations on the mechanisms of the study and its aims and objectives. The audience was reminded that this three-year project aims to achieve early diagnosis of those at risk of TB, by using new diagnostic tools that are currently not used in routine government settings. Study participants include patients diagnosed as TB positive (index cases) from local facilities who are then referred to the research TB clinic located at NIMR-MMRC and MRRH. Once accepted onto the study, their fellow household members (HHCs) are also included in the study for continuous observations.
An attentive audience for the ERASE-TB presentations
The floor was opened for questions and the participants raised a number of interesting and important points which were discussed at length. These included concerns as to the potential side-effects of medication, the availability of doctors in an emergency, and the speed with which they would be notified of any results. Many also requested that TB education to made available to the wider community.
A meal was shared after the meeting concluded, further cementing the relationship between ERSE-TB staff and the study participants. This meeting will be a regular event and will hopefully enable study participants feel confident and committed to the study as valuable partners, ultimately helping to ensure the success of the ERASE-TB trial.