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Free Content Factors associated with patient and health care system delay in the diagnosis of tuberculosis in France

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OBJECTIVE: To analyse diagnostic delay in tuberculosis (TB) patients.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study: all patients with TB notified to the French national surveillance system from April to June 2010 were interviewed face-to-face using a standardised questionnaire to assess symptom history and health-seeking trajectories.

RESULTS: Of 225 patients enrolled, 172 (76.4%) had pulmonary TB, including 88 who were smear-positive. Mean delay between first symptoms and diagnosis (total delay) was 97 days (median 68, IQR 33–111), with a mean of 47 days (median 14, IQR 0–53) between first symptoms and health care contact (patient delay), and 48 days (median 25, IQR 6–67) between health care contact and diagnosis (health system delay). Factors independently associated with shortened total delay were medical insurance (OR 0.24, P = 0.014) and previous TB (OR 0.28, P = 0.049). Those associated with reduced patient delay were initial fever (OR 0.42, P = 0.03) and being followed by a general practitioner (OR 0.22, P = 0.004), while those associated with reduced health system delay were first health care contact within a hospital (OR 0.15, P < 0.001). Empirical antibiotic treatment was associated with increased health system delay (OR 4.4, P = 0.001).

CONCLUSION: TB diagnostic delay needs to be reduced in France. This may be achieved through improved access to care, earlier hospital referral, and less use of empirical antibiotic treatment.
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Keywords: France; diagnosis delay; empirical antibacterials; health care system; tuberculosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Unité des Maladies Infectieuses et Réanimation Médicale, CHU Pontchaillou, Rennes, France 2: Institut de Veille Sanitaire, Saint-Maurice, France 3: Réseau des Centres de Lutte Anti-Tuberculeuse, Strasbourg, France 4: Unité des Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales, Hôpital Bichat, Paris, France 5: Direction Générale de la Santé, Paris, France

Publication date: 01 April 2012

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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