Author(s): dos Santos MA, Albuquerque MF, Ximenes RA, LucenaSilva NL, Braga C,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis is still a great challenge to public health in Brazil and worldwide. Early detection followed by effective therapy is extremely important in controlling the disease. Recent studies have investigated reasons for delays in treatment, but there is no agreed definition of what constitutes an "acceptable" delay. This study investigates factors associated with total delay in treatment of tuberculosis. METHODS: A cohort of adult cases of pulmonary tuberculosis diagnosed over a two-year period was studied. Patients were interviewed on entry, reporting the duration of symptoms before the start of treatment, and sputum and blood samples were collected. It was decided that sixty days was an acceptable total delay. Associations were investigated using univariable and multivariable analysis and the population attributable fraction was estimated. RESULTS: Of 1105 patients, 62\% had a delay of longer than 60 days. Age, sex, alcoholism and difficulty of access were not associated with delays, but associations were found in the case of unemployment, having given up smoking, having lost weight and being treated in two of the six health districts. The proportion attributable to: not being an ex-smoker was 31\%; unemployment, 18\%; weight loss, 12\%, and going to the two worst health districts, 25\%. CONCLUSION: In this urban area, delays seem to be related to unemployment and general attitudes towards health. Although they reflect the way health services are organized, delays are not associated with access to care.
This article was published in BMC Public Health
and referenced in Journal of Health Education Research & Development