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PLoS One. 2018 Nov 28;13(11):e0207995. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0207995. eCollection 2018.

Health-seeking pathway and factors leading to delays in tuberculosis diagnosis in West Pokot County, Kenya: A grounded theory study.

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College of Health Sciences, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya.
Institute of Anthropology Gender and African Studies, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.



Patients' health-seeking behaviour can lead to delays in tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis, however little is known about the experiences and treatment pathways of patients diagnosed with TB in Kenya. The aim of this study is to explore the health seeking practices and factors contributing to delay in TB diagnosis.


This study was based on explorative qualitative research using a constructivist grounded theory approach. A total of 61 TB patients in the intensive phase of treatment were recruited as informants in the study. Six focus group discussions and 15 in-depth interviews were used to collect data. Data were analysed through three step coding using the grounded theory approach.


Participants adopted different treatment pathways as they sought care from a pluralistic health care system involving traditional healers, herbalists, private clinic, drug shops and the public health sector. The study revealed an explanatory model of factors leading to delay illustrated by the participant's expression "I suffered for a long time." The model is comprised of three categories that lead to delays, namely individual, social-cultural and structural factors.


There is a need to improve timely diagnosis of TB through innovative approaches such as intensive case finding. Similarly, the health-care system should decentralize TB services as much as possible and offer free diagnostic services to increase accessibility.

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