Setting: The State of Baja California, Mexico, had the highest prevalence of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Mexico in 2009.
Objective: To understand the socio-economic burden of MDR-TB disease and its treatment on patients in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico.
Design: From July to November 2009, qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 patients enrolled in a US-Mexico binational MDR-TB treatment program, Puentes de Esperanza (Bridges of Hope), which was designed to support MDR-TB patients. In-depth interviews were coded to identify major themes in patient experiences of MDR-TB diagnosis and care.
Results: While some patients were able to maintain their pre-MDR-TB lives to a limited extent, most patients reported losing their sense of identity due to their inability to work, social isolation, and stigmatization from family and friends. The majority of participants expressed appreciation for Puentes' role in 'saving their lives'.
Conclusion: Being diagnosed with MDR-TB and undergoing treatment imposes significant psychological, social and economic stress on patients. Strong social support elements within Puentes helped alleviate these burdens. Improvements to the program might include peer-support groups for patients undergoing treatment and transitioning back into the community after treatment.