Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences

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Disease-Related Knowledge and Practices of Tuberculosis Patients

Solomon Gebre-Selassie, Tewodros Eguale, Girum Abebe, Girmay Medhin, Getahun Abate


BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of directly observed treatment, short course (DOTS) strategy for effective control of TB. Disease-related knowledge, beliefs and practices need to be recognized to tailor the DOTS strategy into the local norms. This study was performed with two objectives: i) to assess TB-related knowledge among TB patients in two rural hospitals in Ethiopia, ii) to assess the practices that contribute to delay in the initiation of anti-TB treatment. METHODS: The study was conducted between June 2000 and May 2001.Two hundred twenty two known adult TB patients attending TB clinics in Jimma and Hossana hospitals were interviewed on their knowledge, attitude and practice related to TB using pre-tested structured questionnaire. Patients belonged to 14 ethnic groups. RESULTS: Sixty percent (134/222) were female. The average family size of patients was 5.3. The number of illiterate female patients was greater than that of males (p = 0.002). Only 36% (80/222) of patients gave a correct response on the transmission of TB. Similarly, only 34 % (76/222) knew about symptoms indicative of TB. Hundred and fifty (67.5 %) patients sought medical help after experiencing TB indicative symptoms for more than one month. Age, sex, education, occupation, and religion did not affect TBrelated knowledge. Thirty-seven (16.7 %) patients used traditional medicine for at least one week before they came to a health institution. The diagnosis of TB had a negative social impact. Forty-eight (21.6 %) patients were either divorced, expelled from their family, abandoned by friends, or lost job. CONCLUSION: Health education targeting basic concepts on the transmission of TB and also targeting the need for early diagnosis is important in TB control. TB control programs may need to include traditional healers into the control strategy to refer patients with specific symptoms.

Ethiop J Health Sci. Vol. 13, No. 1 January 72 2003

AJOL African Journals Online