Objective: To evaluate information dissemination by children and attitudes among children towards a school-based tuberculosis (TB) reduction strategy that asked children to address TB symptoms, testing and stigma in their homes.
Setting and design: Qualitative research was conducted with schoolchildren before, and 2 years into, an intervention to promote early detection of TB using sputum microscopy in Zambia. The baseline study in 2005 involved 38 children at five sites. The evaluation in 2008 included 209 children in schools at four sites. Research with schoolchildren included discussions, drawings, role plays and narratives.
Results: The baseline study revealed children's enthusiasm to learn about TB and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but it also revealed children's anxieties about the possible conflicts related to discussing HIV and TB with adults. Children in the evaluation demonstrated more accurate knowledge about TB and HIV than in the baseline study. Children were enthusiastic about discussing TB and HIV at home. Their responses suggested that they did so with respect and adult approval, circumventing the intergenerational conflict expected during the baseline study.
Conclusion: The present study demonstrates that schoolchildren have a role to play in enhanced case finding. Schoolchildren are already familiar with TB in areas of high burden, but they need more information about the link between TB and HIV and about antiretroviral treatment.