Missed opportunities in tuberculosis investigation and associated factors at public health facilities in Uganda

Article Authors: Keith Twirire Kakame, Noel Namuhani, Andrew Kazibwe, Felix Bongomin, Joseph Baruch Baluku & Sebastian Olikira Baine


Background: The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) is high in Uganda; yet, TB case detection is low. The population-based survey on the prevalence of TB in Uganda revealed that only 16% of presumptive TB patients seeking care at health facilities were offered sputum microscopy or chest-X ray (CXR). This study aimed to determine the magnitude of, and patient factors associated with missed opportunities in TB investigation at public health facilities of Wakiso District in Uganda.
Methods: A facility-based cross-sectional survey was conducted at 10 high volume public health facilities offering comprehensive TB services in Wakiso, Uganda, among adults (≥18 years) with at least one symptom suggestive of TB predefined according to the World Health Organisation criteria. Using exit interviews, data on demographics, TB symptoms, and clinical data relevant to TB diagnosis were collected. A missed opportunity in TB investigation was defined as a patient with symptoms suggestive of TB who did not have sputum and/or CXR evaluation to rule out TB. Poisson regression analysis was performed to determine factors associated with missed opportunities in TB investigation.
Results: Two hundred forty-seven (247) patients with presumptive TB exiting at antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinics (n = 132) or general outpatient clinics (n = 115) at public health facilities were recruited into this study. Majority of participants were female (161/247, 65.2%) with a mean + SD age of 35.1 + 11.5 years. Overall, 138 (55.9%) patients with symptoms suggestive of TB disease did not have sputum and/or CXR examinations. Patients who did not inform health workers about their TB related symptoms were more likely to miss a TB investigation (adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR): 1.68, 95%CI; 1.36–2.08, P < 0.001). However, patients who reported duration of cough of 2 weeks or more were less likely to be missed for TB screening (aPR; 0.69, 95%CI; 0.56–0.86, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: There are substantial missed opportunities for TB diagnosis in Wakiso District. While it is important that patients should be empowered to report symptoms, health workers need to proactively implement the WHO TB symptom screen tool and complete the subsequent steps in the TB diagnostic cascade.

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