Health seeking behaviour, health system experience and tuberculosis case finding in Gambians with cough

Kasse, Yaya; Jasseh, Momodou; Corrah, Tumani; Donkor, Simon A.; Antonnio, Martin; Jallow, Adama; Adegbola, Richard A.; Hill, Philip C.
January 2006
BMC Public Health;2006, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p143
Academic Journal
Background: Studies in Africa investigating health-seeking behaviour by interviewing tuberculosis patients have revealed patient knowledge issues and significant delays to diagnosis. We aimed to study health-seeking behaviour and experience of those with cough in The Gambia and to identify whether they had tuberculosis. Methods: During a round of a population under 3-monthly demographic surveillance, we identified people >10 years old who had been coughing ≥ 3 weeks. A questionnaire was administered concerning demographic data, cough, knowledge, health seeking, and experience at health facilities. Case finding utilised sputum smear and chest X-ray. Results: 122/29,871 coughing individuals were identified. Of 115 interviewed, 93 (81%) had sought treatment; 76 (81.7%) from the health system. Those that visited an alternative health provider first were significantly older than those who visited the health system first (p = 0.03). The median time to seek treatment was 2 weeks (range 0 - 106). 54 (58.1%) made their choice of provider because they believed it was right. Of those who left the health system to an alternative provider (n = 13): 7 believed it was the best place, 3 cited cost and 2 failure to improve. 3 cases were identified by sputum analysis, 11 more by X-ray; all had visited the health system first. Total 'excess' cough time was 1079 person weeks. Conclusion: The majority of people with cough in this population seek appropriate help early. Improved case detection might be achieved through the use of chest X-ray in addition to sputum smear.


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