Exploring Barriers and Facilitators of Adherence to Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapies for the Treatment of Uncomplicated Malaria in Children in Freetown, Sierra Leone Academic Article uri icon

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  • Medication adherence is an essential step in the malaria treatment cascade. We conducted a qualitative study embedded within a randomized controlled trial comparing the adherence to the recommended dosing of two artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) to treat uncomplicated malaria in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This study explored the circumstances and factors that influenced caregiver adherence to the ACT prescribed for their child in the trial. In-depth interviews were conducted with 49 caregivers; all interviews were recorded, transcribed, and translated. Transcripts were coded and aggregated into themes, applying a thematic content approach. We identified four key factors that influenced optimal treatment adherence: (1) health system influences, (2) health services, (3) caregivers’ experiences with malaria illness and treatment, and (4) medication characteristics. Specifically, caregivers reported confidence in the health system as facilities were well maintained and care was free. They also felt that health workers provided quality care, leading them to trust the health workers and believe the test results. Ease of medication administration and perceived risk of side effects coupled with caregivers’ prior experience treating malaria influenced how medications were administered. To ensure ACTs achieve maximum effectiveness, consideration of these contextual factors and further development of child-friendly antimalarials are needed.


  • Banek, Kristin
  • DiLiberto, Deborah
  • Webb, Emily L
  • Smith, Samuel Juana
  • Chandramohan, Daniel
  • Staedke, Sarah G

publication date

  • September 18, 2021