Background: Health system delay (HSD) is an important issue in tuberculosis (TB) control. This report investigates HSD and associated factors in a cohort of Spanish culture-confirmed TB patients.
Methods: Data were collected from clinical records. Using logistic regression with two different cut-off points to define HSD (median and 75th percentile), adjusted odds ratios were used to estimate the association between HSD and different variables.
Results: A total of 5184 culture-confirmed TB cases were included. Median and 75th percentile HSD were 6 and 25 days respectively. HSD significantly greater than the median was associated with: age >44 years, past or present intravenous drug use, diagnosis at a primary-care centre, prior preventive therapy, positive histology, request for drug-sensitivity testing, presence of silicosis or neoplasia in addition to TB, presence of non-TB related symptoms, and gastrointestinal site. HSD greater than the 75th percentile was related to the same variables, with the exception of diagnosis at a primary-care centre, positive histology, silicosis, non-TB-related symptoms and gastrointestinal site, for which the association disappeared; in contrast, an association with female gender emerged.
Conclusion: Despite free health care being universally available in Spain, there are some groups of TB patients whose treatment is unduly delayed.