The objectives of this study were to identify difficulties and their related contexts non-communicable disease (NCD) patients in rural Tanzania experienced, examine how patients managed the situation by seeking better treatment of the diseases, and propose a realistic approach for optimizing disease management with long-term perspectives in resource-limited settings, based on views of patients (PTs), health-care providers (HPs), and health volunteers (HVs). Nine focus group discussions were performed with 56 participants of PTs, HPs, and HVs in three district hospitals in the Dodoma region. Their views and self-care practices were extracted, and the verbatim data were analyzed to derive codes and categories. The types of NCDs reported by the PTs were hypertension (HT), diabetes mellitus (DM), and HT/DM comorbidity. Reported barriers to disease management included discontinuation of treatment due to various factors and a lack of positive messages regarding disease management in NCD care. The following points were addressed in relation to the improved management of NCDs: (i) positive attitudes and coping skills, (ii) support from family members, (iii) good communication between PTs and HPs, and (iv) trustworthy relationships with HVs. The findings suggest that to gain the trust of PTs in optimizing disease control in overstretched health-care systems, patient support systems should be strengthened by empowering positive attitudes.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death globally. NCDs are common in low- and middle-income countries and their prevalence has been growing more prominent. In Tanzania, one-third of all deaths are NCD-related. This study aims to identify the factors that may lead to the improved management of NCDs in rural Tanzania based on actual situations in patients’ daily lives. We conducted focus group discussions with three different groups (patients with hypertension and/or diabetes mellitus [PTs], health volunteers [HVs], and health-care providers [HPs]). The results revealed that PTs faced various barriers such as treatment discontinuation and a lack of positive messages regarding disease management in NCD care. However, the following points were indicated by the participants for the improved management of NCDs: (i) positive attitudes and coping skills, (ii) support from family members, (iii) good communication between PTs and HPs, and (iv) trustworthy relationships with HVs. Thus, to gain the trust of PTs in optimizing disease control and complications in overstretched health-care systems, patient support systems need to be strengthened by adopting a community empowerment approach, delivering supportive messages, and building reliable relationships.

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