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Eur J Public Health. 2005 Aug;15(4):343-9. Epub 2005 Jul 13.

Determinants of health system delay among confirmed tuberculosis cases in Spain.

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TB Research Unit, National Centre for Epidemiology, Carlos III Institute of Public Health, Madrid, Spain.



Health system delay (HSD) is an important issue in tuberculosis (TB) control. This report investigates HSD and associated factors in a cohort of Spanish culture-confirmed TB patients.


Data were collected from clinical records. Using logistic regression with two different cut-off points to define HSD (median and 75th percentile), adjusted odds ratios were used to estimate the association between HSD and different variables.


A total of 5184 culture-confirmed TB cases were included. Median and 75th percentile HSD were 6 and 25 days respectively. HSD significantly greater than the median was associated with: age >44 years, past or present intravenous drug use, diagnosis at a primary-care centre, prior preventive therapy, positive histology, request for drug-sensitivity testing, presence of silicosis or neoplasia in addition to TB, presence of non-TB related symptoms, and gastrointestinal site. HSD greater than the 75th percentile was related to the same variables, with the exception of diagnosis at a primary-care centre, positive histology, silicosis, non-TB-related symptoms and gastrointestinal site, for which the association disappeared; in contrast, an association with female gender emerged.


Despite free health care being universally available in Spain, there are some groups of TB patients whose treatment is unduly delayed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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