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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2011 Sep;15(9):1231-8, i. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.10.0585.

Delays in seeking treatment for symptomatic tuberculosis in Sabah, East Malaysia: factors for patient delay.

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  • 1Sabah Health Department, Ministry of Health, Sabah, Malaysia.



The state of Sabah contributes one third of the tuberculosis (TB) cases in Malaysia.


To collect information on factors that affect the time period from the onset of symptoms to first contact with health care providers, whether private or government.


A cross-sectional study using a pre-tested questionnaire was conducted among 296 newly registered smear-positive TB patients in 10 districts in Sabah. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to determine which risk factors were associated with patient delay (>30 days) and 'extreme' patient delay (>90 days).


The percentage of patients who sought treatment after 30 and 90 days was respectively 51.8% (95%CI 45.7-57.9) and 23.5% (95%CI 18.6-29.0). The strongest factors associated with patient delay and 'extreme' patient delay was when the first choice for treatment was a non-government health facility and in 30-39-year-olds. 'Extreme' patient delay was also weakly associated, among other factors, with comorbidity and livestock ownership.


Delay and extreme delay in seeking treatment were more common when the usual first treatment choice was a non-government health facility. Continuous health education on TB aimed at raising awareness and correcting misconceptions is needed, particularly among those who use non-government facilities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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