Engaging adolescents in TB and clinical trial research through drama

Journal Article


Journal Title

Trials BMC

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

BioMed Central


University of Cape Town

Abstract Background: The South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative is based in Worcester where tuberculosis (TB) is endemic, and incidence rates are amongst the highest nationally. In high TB burden settings after an early childhood peak, incidence rates start to rise again in adolescents, therefore they are an important target group for tuberculosis vaccine research. In 2012, learners from a local school developed a one-off theatrical production out of an educational comic book Carina’s Choice, developed by the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative in 2010. A Wellcome Trust International Engagement grant allowed for this one-off production to be further developed, with input from university students and staff, and rolled out to schools in the Worcester area as an engagement and education intervention. Methods: Focus group feedback was used to identify key messages and to develop the play’s script. Qualitative methods were used to collect and analyse relevant data. Interviews were conducted with learner-actors, pre- and post-focus group feedback was obtained from a sample of school-going adolescents, and pre- and post-questionnaires were administered to adolescent audience members. Results: From the pre-drama focus group discussions, topics such as TB symptoms, stigma and transmission were identified as areas that needed attention. After the performances, adolescents showed improved knowledge on the identified topics and they discussed TB prevention measures. They highlighted transmission of TB during pregnancy as a further topic to be addressed in future iterations of the drama. Although stigma is a difficult phenomenon to interpret, post-drama participants understood that TB transmission could occur in all individuals. Learner-actors agreed with focus group participants that the play could impact the wider community if it were rolled out. Feedback from the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative staff verified that recruitment for an upcoming trial was facilitated by the preparedness that the play provided in recruitment areas. The study showed that before and after evaluations provide data on the usefulness of the play as an education tool. Conclusions: Theatre, presented and motivated by adolescent peers, can raise awareness of TB, and assist clinical trial preparedness and further engagement between trial staff and their trial community.