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Factors Associated with Delayed Tuberculosis Test-seeking Behavior in the Peruvian Amazon

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  • 1 Asociación Benéfica PRISMA, Peru; Voluntary Services Overseas, United Kingdon; Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Maryland; Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru; Ministry of Health, Iquitos, Loreto, Peru; Wellcome Centre for Clinical Tropical Medicine and Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, United Kingdom

This study aimed to determine the psychosocial factors associated with delayed test-seeking among tuberculosis patients. The duration of symptoms before seeking medical care was assessed by interview for 108 newly diagnosed pulmonary tuberculosis patients in the city of Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon, which has high tuberculosis incidence. Beliefs associated with test-seeking behavior and delay was assessed in these patients. The median delay from symptom onset to seeking diagnostic testing was 61 days (inter-quartile range 30–91 days). The belief that tuberculosis is curable was associated with a 100% longer test-seeking delay; the perception that tuberculosis was common was associated with a 57% longer delay; male gender was associated with a 48% longer delay; and education less than complete secondary schooling was associated with a 44% longer delay. In conclusion, current health promotion activities that emphasize tuberculosis curability and high prevalence may paradoxically increase test-seeking delay and therefore require prospective evaluation.

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