The role of socioeconomic factors for the risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) is unclear. Differences and similarities between cases and controls on various socioeconomic factors were determined. Some 84 black TB patients on ambulatory treatment and 84 disease-free controls living in the same urban area (South Africa) and matched for age and sex were studied.
Variables measured: demographic details, general living conditions, household ownership of luxury items, and weekly consumption of four proteins (meat, fish, chicken and cheese). Three socioeconomic indices were constructed from the above variables. No significant differences were found between cases and controls on most of the variables. Overall significant differences were found on the pattern of language groups (chi-square; p = 0.031), employment groups (chi-square; p = 0.029) and meat (chi-square; p = 0.012) and chicken consumption (chi-square; p = 0.034). A tendency was observed for more employed cases than controls to have a primary school education. However, no conclusive evidence was found on the association between socioeconomic factors and risk of developing TB. The development of a more appropriate socioeconomic measure for developing countries is a necessary step for further research.