Background: Early tuberculosis (TB) case finding and adequate chemotherapy are essential for interrupting disease transmission and preventing complications due to delayed care seeking. This study was undertaken in order to provide insights into the magnitude and determinants of patient delay.
Methods: The study was conducted in rural Seru district, employing a population based unmatched case-control study design. The WHO standardized TB screening tool was used to identify presumptive TB cases among the district population ages > 15 years. Presumptive TB cases who sought care in a health facility more than 14 days after the onset of symptoms were considered cases while those who sought care within the first 14 days were classified as controls. A structured interview questionnaire was used to capture socio demographic characteristics and health care service utilization related data from the study participants. A multiple binary logistic regression model was used to identify any factor associated with patient care seeking delay.
Result: A total of 9,782 individuals were screened, of which 980 (10%, 95% CI; 9.4-10.5%) presumptive TB cases were identified. From these cases 358 (76%, 95% CI; 75.6%-76.4%) sought care within the first 14 days of the onset of symptoms with a median patient delay of 15 days, IQR (5-30 days). The most common TB suggestive symptom mentioned by the participants was night sweat 754 (76.4%) while the least common was a history of contact with a confirmed TB case in the past one year 207 (21.1%). Individuals in the 45-54 age range had lower odds of delay (AOR 0.31, 95%CI 0.15, 0.61) as compared to those 15-24 years old. First TB treatment episode (AOR16.2, 95% CI 9.94, 26.26) and limited access to either traditional or modern modes of transportation (AOR 2.62, 95% CI 1.25, 5.49) were independently associated with patient care delay.
Conclusion: Increasing community awareness about the risks of delayed care seeking and the importance of accessing health services close to the community can help decrease patient care delay.
Keywords: Care seeking; Patient delay; TB.