Who is more likely to return for TB test results? A survey at three high-burden primary healthcare facilities in Cape Town, South Africa

Ronelle Burger, Judy Caldwell, Mareli Claassens, Khanya Mama, Pren Naidoo, Matthias Rieger*, Laura Rossouw, Eddy van Doorslaer, Adam Wagstaff

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: In low- and middle-income countries with a high burden of tuberculosis (TB), a large proportion of people who are tested for TB do not return to the health facility to collect their test results and initiate treatment, thus putting themselves at increased risk of adverse outcomes. Methods: This prospective study aimed to identify predictors of returning to the primary health care (PHC) facility to collect TB test results. From 15 August to 15 December 2017, 1105 people who tested for pulmonary TB at three Cape Town PHC facilities were surveyed. Using multi-variate logistic regressions on an analysis sample of 1097 people, three groups of predictors were considered: (i) demographics, health and socio-economic status; (ii) costs and benefits; and (iii) behavioural factors. Results: Forty-four percent of people tested returned to the PHC facility to collect their test results within the stipulated 2 days, and 68% returned before the end of the study period. Return was strongly and positively correlated with expecting a TB-positive result, cognitive avoidance and postponement behaviour. Conclusion: Interventions to improve pre-treatment loss to follow-up should target patients who think they do not have TB, and those with a history of postponement behaviour and cognitive avoidance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-267
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

This study was funded by the World Bank, South Africa Development Fund, Erasmus Trust Fund Project on Research for Health Impact in Africa, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and National Research Foundation of South Africa. The funders of the study had no role in the data collection or the analysis and interpretation of results, or in the writing of the report.

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© 2021 The Author(s)

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