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Determinants of delays in diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis in a new urban township in India: A cross-sectional study

Satyanarayana Konda, Cheryl Melo, Purushottam Giri, Abhiram Behera.


Background: The period of infectiousness of a new sputum smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis case is important in determining the risk of exposure faced by the community. Early detection and effective treatment of TB case reduces the period of transmission and the risk of exposure of the community. It is for this reason that the delay in TB diagnosis and treatment should be minimal to control disease transmission and patient suffering.

Aims & Objective: To measure delays in diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis, and to identify and assess the risk factors associated with these delays.

Material and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted of all new smear-positive pulmonary TB patients diagnosed between January 2012 and June 2013 at RNTCP clinic. The time from the onset of symptoms to first health care consultation (patient delay) and the time from first health care consultation to the date of TB diagnosis (health system delay) were analysed. Bivariate and logistics regression were applied to analyse the risk factors of delays.

Results: A total of 122 patients with a mean age of 29.9 years were included in the study. Mean total delay between the onset of symptoms and treatment initiation was 53.42 days (median 50, range 14-128), with a mean patient delay of 29.24 days (median 25, range 5-94) and mean health system delay of 21.7 days (median 17, range 3–93). The mean treatment delay was 2.48 days (median 2, range 1-6). Factors independently associated with total delay were cough symptom (OR 3.36, P = 0.038), completed secondary school (OR 0.41, P = 0.018), good knowledge of TB symptoms (OR 0.39, P = 0.011), first visit to a public health facility (OR 0.45, P = 0.044), sputum testing at first health care consultation (OR 0.46, P = 0.048) and stigma attached to TB disease (OR 2.89, P = 0.021). Those associated with patient delay were male sex (OR 0.42, P = 0.020), large family size (OR 2.30, P = 0.027), completed secondary school (OR 0.43, P = 0.025) and good knowledge of TB symptoms (OR 0.45, P = 0.029); while those associated with health system delay were first visit to a public health facility (OR 0.31, P = 0.006), sputum testing at first health care consultation (OR 0.22, P = 0.001), number of health care consultations (OR 4.41, P < 0.001) and pre-diagnosis health care cost (OR 3.35, P = 0.001).

Conclusion: Health system delay was an important problem in the area studied, with patient delay being of most concern.

Key words: Pulmonary Tuberculosis; Patient Delay; Health System Delay; Treatment Delay; Risk Factors

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