Background: Considering the high frequency of respiratory infections among children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the World Health Organization (WHO) developed a pragmatic guideline for managing pneumonia in low-resource settings. The guideline’s low specificity leads to many false-positive pneumonia cases receiving antibiotic treatment. Integrating diagnostic technology to incorporate lung sounds into WHO guidelines could improve childhood pneumonia diagnosis and management. This qualitative study aimed to explore the acceptability of a prototype digital stethoscope device among potential end-users in Bangladesh.
Methods: We conducted four focus group discussions (FGDs) with beneficiaries and service providers who used a 2018 digital stethoscope prototype. The data collection was conducted in November 2020. The study was carried out at Zakiganj Upazila (sub-district) of Sylhet district of Bangladesh. A total of 34 respondents, including parents of under-5 children, Community Health Care Providers (CHCPs), and community leaders were enrolled. Two researchers (TJ and a research assistant (not a co-author of this manuscript) conducted the FGDs. Verbatim transcripts were prepared, and translations were completed. Coding was executed in Microsoft Excel, and relevant quotes were extracted to ascertain the emerging themes. To ensure validity, two researchers coded the dataset independently and inconsistencies were resolved through discussion.
Findings: Mothers were more aware of the digital stethoscope than fathers. Except for the female community leaders, male leaders were unaware of the stethoscopes. Most CHCPs had positive perceptions of the digital stethoscope. They appreciated stethoscope training as they learned about new technology and diagnostic approaches. The users mentioned several technical shortcomings of the prototype device. A few stakeholders expressed dissatisfaction with the level of community involvement and information sharing from the study. The use of the device plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic for fear of infection, to counteract which the CHCPs cleaned the device with chlorhexidine after every application as a precaution.
Conclusion: Overall, device use was supported by stakeholders despite perceptions that the prototype had some technological limitations, community engagement was suboptimal, and the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions. Stronger community engagement, addressing technological issues, and further research on its health systems application would improve the acceptability and effective use of the digital stethoscope.
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Joarder, T., Tune, S., Islam, A., Islam, A., Roy, A., DMcCollum, E., Nair, H., Cunningham, S., McLane, I., Shahidullah, M., HBaqui, A. & Ahmed, S. 2023, 'End-user acceptability of a prototype digital stethoscope to diagnose childhood pneumonia: A qualitative exploration from Sylhet, Bangladesh', BMC Digital Health, 1, article no: 26. https://doi.org/10.1186/s44247-023-00027-y