Use of standardised patients to assess quality of tuberculosis care: a pilot, cross-sectional study
Existing studies of the quality of tuberculosis care have relied on recall-based patient surveys, questionnaire surveys of knowledge, and prescription or medical record analysis, and the results mostly show the health-care provider's knowledge rather than actual practice. No study has used standardised patients to assess clinical practice. Therefore we aimed to assess quality of care for tuberculosis using such patients.
We did a pilot, cross-sectional validation study of a convenience sample of consenting private health-care providers in low-income and middle-income areas of Delhi, India. We recruited standardised patients in apparently good health from the local community to present four cases (two of presumed tuberculosis and one each of confirmed tuberculosis and suspected multidrug-resistant tuberculosis) to a randomly allocated health-care provider. The key objective was to validate the standardised-patient method using three criteria: negligible risk and ability to avoid adverse events for providers and standardised patients, low detection rates of standardised patients by providers, and data accuracy across standardised patients and audio verification of standardised-patient recall. We also used medical vignettes to assess providers' knowledge of presumed tuberculosis. Correct case management was benchmarked using Standards for Tuberculosis Care in India (STCI).