Delays to Anti-tuberculosis Treatment Initiation among Cases on Directly Observed Treatment Short Course in Districts of Southwestern Ethiopia: A Cross Sectional Study

Journal Article
  • Abyot Asres
  • Degu Jerene
  • Wakgari Deressa
BMC Infectious Diseases
2019; Vol.19: 481. DOI:
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Background: Delayed tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment increase morbidity, mortality, expenditure, and transmission in the community. This study assessed patient and provider related delays to diagnosis and treatment of TB.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 735 new adult TB cases registered between January to December 2015 in 10 woredas equivalent to districts of southwestern Ethiopia. Data were collected through face-to-face interview of patients within the first 2 months of treatment initiation. Delay in days was tracked at three intervals: between onset of symptoms and self-presentation (Patient delay), Self-presentation to treatment initiation (Provider delay) and total delay. Days elapsed beyond median were used to define the delays. Bivariate and multiple logistic regression models were fit to identify predictors of delays and statistical significance was judged at p < 0.05.

Result: The median (inter-quartile range) of patient, provider and total delays were 25 (IQR;15–36), 22 (IQR:9–48) and 55 (IQR:32–100) days, respectively. More than half (54.6%) of the total delay was attributed to health system. Prior self-treatment [adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR)]: 1.72, 95% confidence interval [CI]:1.07–2.75), HIV co-infection (aOR:1.8, 95% CI: 1.05–3.10) and extra-pulmonary TB (aOR: 1.54,95% CI:1.03–2.29) were independently associated with increased odds of patient delay. On the other hand initial presentation to health posts or private clinics (aOR: 1.42, 95% CI: 1.01, 2.0) and patient delay (aOR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.33–2.50) significantly predicted longer provider delay. Finally, having extra pulmonary TB (aOR: 1.6, 95% CI: 1.07–2.38), prior consultation of traditional healer (aOR: 3.72, 95% CI: 1.01–13.77) and use of holy water (aOR: 2.73, 95% CI: 1.11, 6.70) independently predicted longer total delay.

Conclusion: Tuberculosis patients waited too long time to initiate anti-TB treatment reflecting longer periods of morbidity and disease transmission. The delays are attributed to the patient, disease and health system related factors. Hence, improving community awareness, involving informal providers, health extension workers and TB treatment supporters can reduce the patient delay. Similarly, cough screening and improving diagnostic efficiencies of healthcare facilities should be in place to reduce the provider delays.