Free Content Defining and assessing the maximum number of visits patients should make to a health facility to obtain a diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis

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Abstract:

SETTING: All non-private hospitals in Malawi.

OBJECTIVES: To determine 1) how many patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) exceed the maximum number of visits needed for registration as defined by the National Tuberculosis Control Programme, and 2) the factors associated with this delay.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study interviewing hospitalised patients with new smear-positive and smear-negative PTB.

RESULTS: Of 380 patients with PTB admitted to the 44 hospitals visited between April and June 2002, 329 (212 smear-positive and 117 smear-negative PTB) were interviewed: 64 (30%) smear-positive PTB patients needed more than five visits, and 44 (37%) smear-negative PTB patients needed more than six visits before being registered and started on treatment. Factors associated with exceeding the maximum number of visits were the first visit being to a health centre, submission of >1 set of sputum specimens, and >1 course of antibiotics. The main consequence of exceeding the maximum number of visits was increased duration of cough and increased time spent at health facilities.

CONCLUSION: One third of patients exceed the maximum number of visits for registration of PTB. The main consequence of this is an increased duration of cough and an increased time spent at health facilities. Ways to reduce this delay need to be found.

Keywords: Malawi; health facility visits; pulmonary tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Community Health Science Unit, National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Lilongwe, Malawi 2: Community Health Science Unit, National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Lilongwe, Malawi; and the World Health Organization Lilongwe Office, Lilongwe, Malawi 3: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom

Publication date: October 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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