Determinants of patient and health system delay among Italian and foreign-born patients with pulmonary tuberculosis: A multicentre cross-sectional study

Annalisa Quattrocchi, Martina Barchitta, Carmelo G.A. Nobile, Rosa Prato, Giovanni Sotgiu, Alessandra Casuccio, Francesco Vitale, Antonella Agodi

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Objectives The aim of this cross-sectional study was to identify key factors associated with patient delay (PD), health system delay (HSD) and total delay (TOTD) in patients with tuberculosis (TB) to inform control programmes. Setting The study was conducted in four Italian regions in 2014-2016. Data were obtained using a questionnaire including: sociodemographic and lifestyle data, TB comorbidities, patient knowledge and attitudes towards TB, stigma, access to TB care and health-seeking behaviours. Participants Patients' inclusion criteria were being diagnosed as a new smear positive pulmonary TB case and living in one of the participating Italian regions. Overall, 344 patients from 30 healthcare centres were invited to participate and 253 patients were included in the analysis (26.5% non-response rate); 63.6% were males and 55.7% were non-Italian born. Outcome measures Risk factors for PD, HSD and TOTD in patients with TB were assessed by multivariable analysis. Adjusted ORs (aOR) and 95% CIs were calculated. Results Median PD, HSD and TOTD were 30, 11 and 45 days, respectively. Factors associated with longer PD were: stigma (aOR 2.30; 95% CI 1.06 to 4.98), chest pain (aOR 2.67; 95% CI 1.24 to 6.49), weight loss (aOR 4.66; 95% CI 2.16 to 10.05), paying for transportation (aOR 2.66; 95% CI 1.24 to 5.74) and distance to the health centre (aOR 2.46; 95% CI 1.05 to 5.74) (the latter three were also associated with TOTD). Shorter HSD was associated with foreign-born and female status (aOR 0.50; 95% CI 0.27 to 0.91; aOR 0.28; 95% CI 0.15 to 0.53, respectively), dizziness (aOR 0.18, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.78) and seeking care at hospital (aOR 0.35; 95% CI 0.18 to 0.66). Prior unspecific treatment was associated with longer HSD (aOR 2.25; 95% CI 1.19 to 4.25) and TOTD (aOR 2.55; 95% CI 1.18 to 5.82). Haemoptysis (aOR 0.12; 95% CI 0.03 to 0.43) and repeated visits with the same provider (aOR 0.29; 95% CI 0.11 to 0.76) showed shorter TOTD. Conclusions This study identifies several determinants of delays associated with patient's behaviours and healthcare qualities. Tackling TB effectively requires addressing key risk factors that make individuals more vulnerable by the means of public health policy, cooperation and advocacy to ensure that all patients have easy access to care and receive high-quality healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere019673
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • public health policy
  • quality in health care
  • social epidemiology
  • surveillance
  • tuberculosis patients


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