Tuberculosis patients in primary care do not start treatment. What role do health system delays play?

M. M. Claassens, E. du Toit, R. Dunbar, C. Lombard, D. A. Enarson, N. Beyers, M. W. Borgdorff

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Primary health care facilities in five provinces of South Africa. To investigate the association between the proportion of sputum results with a prolonged smear turnaround time and the proportion of smear-positive tuberculosis (TB) cases initially lost to follow-up. The unit of investigation was a primary health care facility and the outcome was the initial loss to follow-up rate per facility, which was calculated by comparing the sputum register with the TB treatment register. A prolonged turnaround time was defined as more than 48 h from when the sputum sample was documented in the sputum register to receipt of the result at the facility. The mean initial loss to follow-up rate was 25% (95%CI 22-28). Smear turnaround time overall was inversely associated with initial loss to follow-up (P = 0.008), when comparing Category 2 (33-66% turnaround time within 48 h) with Category 1 (0-32%) (OR 0.73, 95%CI 0.48-1.13, P = 0.163) and when comparing Category 3 (67-100%) with Category 1 (OR 0.62, 95%CI 0.39-0.99, P = 0.045). The population preventable fraction of initial loss to follow-up (when turnaround time was <48 h in ≥67% of smear results) was 21%. Initial loss to follow-up should be reported as part of the TB programme to ensure that patients are initiated on treatment to prevent transmission within communities
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-607
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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