Understanding the treatment burden of people with chronic conditions in Kenya: A cross-sectional analysis using the Patient Experience with Treatment and Self-Management (PETS) questionnaire

Koros H, Nolte E, Kamano J, Mugo R, Murphy A, Naanyu V, Willis R, Pliakas T, Eton DT, Barasa E, Perel P
PLOS Glob Public Health. 2023;3

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In Kenya, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are an increasingly important cause of morbidity and mortality, requiring both better access to health care services and self-care support. Evidence suggests that treatment burdens can negatively affect adherence to treatment and quality of life. In this study, we explored the treatment and self-management burden among people with NCDs in in two counties in Western Kenya. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of people newly diagnosed with diabetes and/or hypertension, using the Patient Experience with Treatment and Self-Management (PETS) instrument. A total of 301 people with diabetes and/or hypertension completed the survey (63% female, mean age = 57 years). They reported the highest treatment burdens in the domains of medical and health care expenses, monitoring health, exhaustion related to self-management, diet and exercise/physical therapy. Treatment burden scores differed by county, age, gender, education, income and number of chronic conditions. Younger respondents (<60 years) reported higher burden for medication side effects (p<0.05), diet (p<0.05), and medical appointments (p = 0.075). Those with no formal education or low income also reported higher burden for diet and for medical expenses. People with health insurance cover reported lower (albeit still comparatively high) burden for medical expenses compared to those without it. Our findings provide important insights for Kenya and similar settings where governments are working to achieve universal health coverage by highlighting the importance of financial protection not only to prevent the economic burden of seeking health care for chronic conditions but also to reduce the associated treatment burden.