Exploring the mechanism through which a child-friendly storybook addresses barriers to child-participation during HIV care in primary healthcare settings in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

BMC Public Health. 2021 Mar 16;21(1):508. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10483-8.


Background: Healthcare workers (HCWs) in South Africa widely use job-aids as practical tools to enhance the provision of HIV services, thereby improving patient-provider interactions during the care process. Job-aids are visual support materials that provide appropriate information using graphics and words in a simple and yet effective manner. We explored the mechanism through the KidzAlive Talk tool storybook (Talk tool), a child-centred job-aid for HCWs that facilitates child-participation during HIV consultations in primary healthcare (PHC) clinics implementing the KidzAlive model.

Methods: The study was conducted in PHC clinics across four districts; namely: uMkhanyakude, Zululand, uMgungundlovu, and eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. We conducted in-depth interviews with children (n = 30), their primary caregivers (PCGs) (n = 30), and KidzAlive trained and mentored HCWs (n = 20). Data were collected in both English and isiZulu languages through user-specific, structured in-depth interviews. All the interviews were audio-recorded (with participants' assent and consent, respectively). Data were transcribed verbatim, prior to translating the isiZulu transcripts to English. Translations were done by a member of the research team competent in both languages. Electronic data were imported to NVivo 10 for analysis and subsequently analysed using a thematic analysis method followed by a constant comparative and modified grounded theory analysis method.

Results: The findings identified the following barriers to child-participation: Primary caregiver limiting the child's involvement due to fear of traumatising them; HCWs' limited knowledge and skills to deliver child-centred HIV care; childhood developmental stage-related limitations and healthcare institutional paternalism. The Talk tool addresses the above barriers by using simple language and terminology to cater for children at various stages of development; alleviating HCWs' and PCGs' fear of possible psychological harm to the child; using storytelling and colourful cartoon illustrations for child edutainment; Being versatile by allowing for multiple utility and tackling institutional paternalism that limit child-involvement in the process of care.

Conclusions: This study provided evidence on how the Talk tool storybook addresses barriers to child-participation in the HIV care process. The evidence generated from this study is compelling enough to recommend the scale-up of this innovation in low-resource settings.

Keywords: Child-centred care; Child-participation; KidzAlive; Storytelling; Talk tool storybook; Theory of change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • HIV Infections* / therapy
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • South Africa