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Free Content Pathways and costs of care for patients with tuberculosis symptoms in rural Uganda

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SETTING: Six district-level government health centers in rural Uganda and the surrounding communities.

OBJECTIVE: To determine pathways to care and associated costs for patients with chronic cough referred for tuberculosis (TB) evaluation in Uganda.

DESIGN: We conducted a cross-sectional study, surveying 64 patients presenting with chronic cough and undergoing first-time sputum evaluation at government clinics. We also surveyed a random sample of 114 individuals with chronic cough in surrounding communities. We collected information on previous health visits for the cough as well as costs associated with the current visit.

RESULTS: Eighty per cent of clinic patients had previously sought care for their cough, with a median of three previous visits (range 0–32, interquartile range [IQR] 2–5). Most (n = 203, 88%) visits were to a health facility that did not provide TB microscopy services, and the majority occurred in the private sector. The cost of seeking care for the current visit alone represented 28.8% (IQR 9.1–109.5) of the patients' median monthly household income.

CONCLUSION: Most patients seek health care for chronic cough, but do so first in the private sector. Engagement of the private sector and streamlining TB diagnostic evaluation are critical for improving case detection and meeting global TB elimination targets.
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Keywords: care seeking; cost; cough; delay; diagnosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: *Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, Curry International Tuberculosis Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA 2: Infectious Diseases Research Collaboration, Kampala, Uganda 3: §Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 4: Infectious Diseases Research Collaboration, Kampala, Uganda, School of Medicine, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda 5: *Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, Curry International Tuberculosis Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2015

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 lung health world-wide.

    To share scientific research of immediate concern as rapidly as possible, The Union is fast-tracking the publication of certain articles from the IJTLD and publishing them on The Union website, prior to their publication in the Journal. Read fast-track articles.

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

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