Recent approaches to TB control have focused on identifying and treating active cases to halt further transmission. Patients with TB symptoms often delay to seek care, get appropriate diagnosis, and initiate effective treatment. These delays are partly influenced by whom the patients contact within their community network. We aimed to evaluate the community drivers of diagnostic delay in an urban setting in Uganda.
Visits to health providers without access to appropriate diagnostic services accounted for 56% of contacts made by cohort members, and were significantly associated with community contact delay, as were symptoms common to other prevalent illnesses, such as bone and joint pain.
In this study we analyze data from a retrospective cohort of 194 TB patients in Kampala, Uganda. We characterized the patterns of contacts made by patients seeking care for TB symptoms. The main outcome of interest was total community contact delay, defined as the time patients spent seeking care before visiting a provider capable of diagnosing TB.
Education programs aimed at primary care providers, as well as other community members, may benefit case identification, by informing them of rarer symptoms of TB, potential for co-infections of TB and other prevalent diseases, and the availability of diagnostic services.