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Improving TB Medication Adherence Through Language

Tuberculosis is a harmful contagious bacterial infection that a fourth of the world is at risk for spreading with cases high in developing countries. Many foreign-born individuals who move to the United States will test positive for TB. Whether you are actively having symptoms (active TB) or it is lying dormant in your lungs (latent TB), treatment includes taking either Rifampicin or Isoniazid for a minimum of 6 months or a maximum of 9 months. Medication adherence is difficult due to the long consistent course of treatment. Low medication consistency leads to the spread of TB and an increase in drug resistance. Studies show many different risk factors contribute to this non-compliance such as lack of transportation, cost, and lack of education. It has been directly observed at a health department in Western Massachusetts that one of the main causes of hesitancy and decreased medication adherence is a language barrier. When trying to educate a patient on their diagnosis and the benefits of treatment, translators have difficulty translating the medical jargon into a comprehensible conversation. If the information were to be broken down into simpler terms and translated into the patient's native language, this would help the patient with making an educated informed decision about their medical care. Creating a pamphlet for the health department to give to individuals about where they can find information in their language or whom to contact with questions will be implemented.

Hannah Stringer '23
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