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Determinants of patient delay among tuberculosis cases in Spain

M. Díez, M.J. Bleda, J. Alcaide, T. Caloto, C. Castells, J.I. Cardenal, A. Domínguez, P. Gayoso, G. Gutiérrez, C. Huerta, M.J. López, T. Moreno, F. Muñoz, C. Navarro, M. Picó, F. Pozo, J.R. Quirós, F. Robles, J.M. Sánchez, H. Vanaclocha, T. Vega
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/14.2.151 151-155 First published online: 1 June 2004


Background: Patient delay was investigated in a cohort of TB patients identified from May 1996 until April 1997 in 13 Autonomous Regions in Spain. The study covered almost 67% of the total Spanish population. Methods: Data were collected from clinical records. Using unconditional logistic regression with two different cut-off points to define ‘patient delay’ (the median and 75th percentile), the association between patient delay and different factors was estimated. Results: A total of 7,037 cases were included. Median and 75th percentile delays were 22 and 57 days respectively. Factors associated with patient delay greater than the median (p<0.05) were: non-respiratory symptoms of TB and age over 14 years, although the effect of age was not linear. Furthermore, an interaction was observed between intravenous drug user (IDU) and HIV status, in that, whereas patient delay was greater in IDUs than in non-IDUs among cases whose HIV status was either negative or unknown, among HIV-positive patients no such IDU-related differences were in evidence. Factors associated with extreme patient delay (greater than the 75th percentile) were essentially the same, but the above-described interaction disappeared, with IDU status showing no direct effect. In addition, likelihood of extreme patient delay increased in the case of alcoholism and female gender and decreased in the case of chronic renal failure, corticoid treatment, prison inmates and residents of old age homes. Conclusion: Although there is a universally enjoyed right to health care in Spain, some groups of TB patients could nevertheless be experiencing problems in seeking medical attention.

  • HIV, patient delay, tuberculosis

Received 18 July 2002. Accepted 9 January 2003.