Perceptions and practices of community members relating to trachoma in Africa: a qualitative systematic review

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JBI evidence synthesis


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this review was to synthesize the perceptions and practices of community members relating to trachoma in Africa. INTRODUCTION: Trachoma is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and Africa is the worst-affected continent. Synthesized evidence relating to the disease has focused on various aspects including epidemiology, control, health education, facial cleanliness, interventions for trachomatous trichiasis, and the burden of trachoma on women. Currently, systematic reviews on perceptions and practices relating to trachoma are lacking despite the existence of primary studies. Filling this knowledge gap is critical for decision-making for effective community uptake of interventions. INCLUSION CRITERIA: Qualitative studies on the perceptions and practices relating to trachoma in both health care and community settings in Africa were considered for inclusion. Studies with participants 14 years or older were considered, regardless of gender, health status, religion, or ethnicity. Perceptions included beliefs, perspectives, views, knowledge, and thoughts relating to trachoma. Practices included regular actions relating to trachoma, such as treatment and prevention behaviors. METHODS: A search for studies in English was conducted in MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO, Sociological Abstracts, BioMed Central, Current Contents, Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar in May 2019 and updated in October 2021. Unpublished studies were searched in MedNar, Index to Thesis, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, World Health Organization, and individual governments' commissioned trachoma reports. Two independent reviewers were involved in study selection, critical appraisal, and data extraction using the JBI tools. Data were synthesized using the JBI meta-aggregative approach. RESULTS: Seven studies were included in this review. Participants were people either with or without trachoma. A total of 90 findings were extracted, from which 10 categories were produced and three synthesized findings derived from the categories. The synthesized findings are: understanding and awareness of trachoma influences perceptions of treatment and preventive methods; beliefs and behaviors influence treatment options; economic constraints, socio-cultural beliefs, and risk perceptions influence prevention behaviors and practices. CONCLUSION: Various perceptions and practices relating to trachoma exist among community members in Africa. These perceptions and practices are influenced by knowledge, cultural beliefs, economic factors, and environmental factors. The findings suggest the need for decision-makers in policy and practice to consider and include these perceptions and practices when designing interventions to combat trachoma in endemic countries. However, due to the limited number of included studies and their methodological weaknesses, more high-quality studies are needed to have a deeper and broader view on these perceptions and practices.

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