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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 643-648

Diagnostic delay and associated factors among patients with pulmonary tuberculosis in Kerala

1 Department of Community Medicine, K.A.P.Viswanatham Government Medical College, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Selvam Paramasivam
Block D, No. D6, Teaching Staff Quarters, K.A.P.Viswanatham Government Medical College Campus, Tiruchirappalli - 620 001, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.222052

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Introduction: Delay in the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) can lead to an increased infectivity period, delayed treatment, and increased severity of the disease. The objective of this study was to estimate the diagnostic delay and factors associated with the delay in diagnosis among the newly diagnosed smear-positive pulmonary TB patients in Kerala, India. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among TB patients who were in the intensive phase of directly observed treatment short-course treatment in four randomly selected TB units in a district in Kerala during the years 2012–2013. Diagnostic delay was defined as the delay between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. Data collection using a modified World Health Organization questionnaire was done by interviewing 302 participants. Results: Mean age of the participants was 48.6 ± 14.5 years. Males constituted 76.5% of the study population. The mean diagnostic delay was 43.5 ± 29.1 days (median: 37 days). The median patient and health system delays were 16 days and 15 days, respectively. Patient delay (55.6%) contributed more than health system delay (44.4%). Poor knowledge about TB, first consulting a private physician, and increased number of consultations were found to be significantly associated with diagnostic delay. Conclusion: The diagnostic delay in tuberculosis reported in this study was lower than other studies in India but it needs further reduction. Both patients and health providers play a role in a delay in diagnosis, and poor knowledge about the disease among the patients was one of the main risk factors. Interventions to improve knowledge and awareness of the disease and to increase the suspicion of chest symptomatic by health-care providers in the private sector are vital to reduce diagnostic delay.

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