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Free Content Analysis of care-seeking pathways of tuberculosis patients in Guangxi, China, with and without decentralised tuberculosis services

SETTING: Tuberculosis (TB) care has been decentralised to township hospitals in a rural, poor area of Guangxi, China, since 1 April 2005. Routine county-based TB care was provided in a comparable control area.

OBJECTIVE: To compare patients' care-seeking behaviours between the intervention and control groups.

METHODS: In February 2007, all 230 new pulmonary TB smear-positive patients registered in the intervention and control groups between 1 April 2005 and 31 July 2006 were approached; of these, 171 were surveyed using a structured questionnaire. Their patient records were reviewed to minimise recall bias.

RESULTS: Patients in the intervention group spent less for treating TB symptoms prior to TB diagnosis compared with the control group (P < 0.01). Travel costs were lower in the intervention than control group, but the difference was not statistically significant (P > 0.05). Diagnostic delays for patients in the intervention and control groups were respectively 26 and 38 days (t = −0.835, P> 0.05). Logistic regression suggested that visiting county general hospitals tended to prolong patient diagnostic delay and cost more before TB diagnosis.

CONCLUSION: Decentralising TB services to township hospitals brought TB care closer to rural patients, shortened TB patient care-seeking pathways and reduced costs before TB diagnosis.

Keywords: China; access; care pathway; decentralisation; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK 2: Guangxi Provincial Health Bureau, Guangxi, China 3: Guangxi Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Guangxi, China

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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