Setting: The study was conducted in four districts in different regions of Vietnam.
Objective: To describe the socio-economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) in Vietnam with special reference to gender differentials concerning social stigma and isolation.
Design: Sixteen focus group discussions were carried out with men and women, TB patients and non-TB participants. Data was analysed using modified grounded theory technique.
Results: Generally, the participants had good knowledge about TB. However, knowledge and practice were not closely related in the sense that most non-TB participants perceived that TB can be successfully cured, while patients were seriously shocked when they were told that they had TB. Male patients often worried about economic-related problems, while female patients worried about social consequences of the disease. Both in the family and the community, isolation could be subtle, but it could also be obvious and had a tendency to continue much longer than medically justified.
Conclusion: Information on stigma and isolation due to TB and gender differences is important for understanding patient dynamics and its effects on the disease. Tuberculosis control programmes need better understanding of the gender differences in attitudes and beliefs to improve case-detection and treatment outcome.