Background: Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the primary public health problems in developing countries. HIV/AIDS, poverty, undernutrition, over-crowded living conditions and lack of knowledge about the disease have been known to increase the risk of spreading the bacteria and the risk of developing the disease. The objective of this study was to assess the level of TB knowledge, attitudes and practices of rural communities of Itang Special District of the Gambella Regional State of Ethiopia.
Methods: Between November 2011 and January 2012, a community-based cross sectional study was carried out in a randomly selected rural kebeles (i.e. the smallest administrative units) of Itang communities. The study participants were interviewed using pre-tested questionnaire. The overall knowledge, attitudes and practices of the study participants were assessed using the mean score of each outcome as a cut-off value. Having a score above the mean on each of the three target outcomes was equated with having a good level of knowledge, or having favorable attitude and good practices towards TB.
Results: Out of 422 study participants (58.5% males and 41.5% females) only 3.3% mentioned bacteria/germ as a cause of pulmonary TB (PTB) and 9.9% mentioned cough for at least two weeks as the sign of TB. Taking the mean knowledge score as the cut-off value, 57.6% (95% CI: 52.7% to 62.3%) of the study participants had good level of knowledge about TB, 40.8% (95% CI: 36.0% to 45.6%) had favorable attitude towards TB and 45.9% (95% CI: 41.1% to 50.9%) had good practices. Female participants were less likely to have good level of knowledge [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.33, 95% CI, 0.21 to 0.51, p < 0.001], less likely to have favorable attitude (AOR = 0.23, 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.37) and less likely to have good practices (AOR = 0.37, 95% CI, 0.24 to 0.57, p < 0.001) compared to male participants.
Conclusion: Majority of the study participants had no correct information about the causative agent of TB and the main symptom of PTB. Moreover, low level of overall knowledge, attitudes and practices about TB was associated with female participants. Hence, TB control strategy in the present study area should include community awareness raising component.