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Free Content When are follow-up sputum smears actually examined in patients treated for new smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis?

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SETTING: All 44 non-private hospitals (four central, 22 district and 18 mission) in Malawi that registered and treated tuberculosis (TB) cases, October–December 2001.

OBJECTIVES: To determine, in new smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) patients, for the 2-, 5- and 7-month smear examinations, 1) the proportion with smears examined and 2) the actual timing of smear examination.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective data collection using TB registers, TB treatment cards and laboratory sputum registers. Timing of smear examinations was judged acceptable if 2-month smears were examined at 2 or 3 months, 5-month smears at 4, 5 or 6 months and 7-month smears at 6, 7, 8 or 9 months.

RESULTS: Of 1994 patients, for those alive and on treatment, 78% had smears definitely examined at 2 months, 75% at 5 months and 74% at 7 months. Of these, 82% had smears examined at an acceptable time for the 2-month smear, 71% for the 5-month smear and 78% for the 7-month smear. Smears were examined after the 8-month treatment regimen for the 2- and 5-month smear in respectively 2% and 9% of patients. Smears were done more frequently in female than male patients, and in district/mission hospitals than central hospitals. Smears were done at acceptable times more frequently in younger than older patients and in mission/central hospitals than district hospitals.

CONCLUSION: During supervision, the actual time of follow-up sputum smear examinations needs to be monitored more closely.

Keywords: 2-month smears; 5-month smears; 7-month smears; Malawi; smear-positive PTB

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Community Health Science Unit, Lilongwe, Malawi

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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  • 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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