Objective: To quantify patient and health care delays in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) in Emilia-Romagna region, Italy, and to study the association between migration status and delay.
Design: All patients with symptomatic PTB, aged >15 years, who were notified in Emilia-Romagna during 2003 and were alive at time of data collection, were included. An individual form was completed for each notified patient by the local health authority officer in charge of surveillance data.
Results: Median patient delay, health care delay and total delay were 7, 36 and 65 days, respectively. Recent migrants (stay in Italy < or = 3 years) had the longest patient delay (16 days), while Italian patients had the longest health care delay (60 days). Migration status was independently associated with both patient and health care delay, although the direction of association changed according to which delay was considered.
Conclusion: Public health interventions aiming to reduce delay in treatment of PTB should improve the access of recent migrants to health care and increase suspicion of TB among Italian patients. Studies on delays in treatment of TB should investigate patient delay and health care delay as distinct outcomes.