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The end of tuberculosis?

Tim Debroyer
Time period: 1945-1986
Number of interviews: 14
Accessibility: On request
Transcripts: Yes

Tim Debroyer makes nice use of oral history and links it nicely to the results of archival research. He approaches the subject from different perspectives, that of the patient, the medical angle, nursing and other disciplines. This very approach from multiple perspectives shows that the history of nursing is not an isolated discipline. 


The content of the thesis is also original. TB has been a huge problem and one would expect it to have been solved with the advent of penicillin. This thesis does an excellent job of showing how big a part nurses played in eliminating TB as a disease. The creative use of interviews with nurses reveals the invisible side of nursing practice.

This master’s thesis places the ‘end’ and disappearance of a supposedly vanquished disease at the centre by analysing pulmonary tuberculosis in the period after World War II, at the time when antibiotics transformed the treatment of the disease. The Elisabeth sanatorium in Sijsele serves as a case study for this purpose. Tim Debroyer has examined the transformation of this sanatorium and the associated experiences of patients and staff through archival research and interviews. This case study begins at the end of the Second World War when the introduction of antibiotics triggered a whole series of changes within the sanatorium and ends with the closure of the last sanatorium service in Sijsele in 1986. His analysis of what took place in Sijsele during this key period thus offers an in-depth look at a broader transformation in the approach to tuberculosis at home and abroad.