Health-seeking behaviour of new smear-positive TB patients under a DOTS programme in Tamil Nadu, India, 2003.

Selvam, J.M.; Wares, F.; Perumal, M.; Gopi, P.G.; Sudha, G.; Chandrasekaran, V.; Santha, T.

International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease; 2007; 11; 161167.

Background: Although case detection is above 70% in Tamil Nadu after DOTS implementation, an assessment of the timeliness of patient diagnosis and treatment is still needed.

Objective: To study the health-seeking behaviour of new smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) patients treated at government facilities.

Methods : New smear-positive patients diagnosed and treated between January and March 2003 in government facilities of randomly selected blocks in Tamil Nadu were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule.

Results: Of 601 patients interviewed, 65% contacted a provider within 28 days. The first contact was governmental for 47% and non-governmental for 53%. Median total, patient and provider delays were respectively 62, 28 and 28 days; provider delay was 9 days with government and 50 with private provider. In multivariate analysis, patient delay was significantly associated with smoking ( P < 0.001) and mode of travel ( P < 0.01), and provider delay with first consultation with a private provider ( P < 0.001) and distance >5 km from the health facility ( P < 0.01). Twenty-five per cent of patients took more than two actions before diagnosis.

Conclusion: Community awareness of TB needs to be increased. Greater private sector involvement in the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme is essential to reduce provider delay. Referral and sputum transportation to the diagnostic facility should be given priority.

Keywords: tuberculosis; health seeking behaviour; delay; India


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