Ranking of diagnostic features of childhood pulmonary tuberculosis by medical doctors in southeastern Nigeria
Objective: To rank diagnostic features of childhood pulmonary tuberculosis; and to determine the effect of working in tuberculosis Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) facilities on the ranking of these features by medical doctors. Methods: A cross sectional descriptive study, using structured questionnaires to collect data from medical doctors whose daily routine included attending to sick children in 34 selected children outpatient clinics and TB DOTS centers in southeastern Nigeria. Results: Approximately, one quarter (25.3% or 56 of 221) of respondents worked in Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) clinics, while three quarters (74.7% or 165 of 221) worked in nonDOTSclinics. Majority of the respondents (69.7%) ranked chronic persistent cough (1), 42.5 % ranked weight loss and failure to thrive (2), another 27.7% ranked weight loss and failure to thrive (3), while 17.6% and 21.7% ranked History of contact with adult index case and radiographic abnormalities, (4) and (5), respectively. The study found that the percentage of doctors working in DOTS clinics who ranked weight loss and failure to thrive (2) was statistically and significantly higher than those of non-DOTS respondents. Conclusions: The most important symptoms/signs on which medical doctors based their diagnosis of childhood pulmonary tuberculosis include cough, weight loss and failure to thrive, history of contact with adult with smear positive pulmonary tuberculosis, and radiographic abnormalities consistent with active tuberculosis. There was statistically significant difference between the ranking of weight loss and failure to thrive by doctors working in DOTS clinics and their counterparts in non DOTS clinics. This study showed a decline in the percentage of ranking in both DOTS and Non DOTS respondents as they moved from the first to the fifth.
KEY WORDS: Childhood pulmonary tuberculosis, Doctors, Ranking, Diagnostic features, Directly observed treatment short course (DOTS).