Duration and associated factors of patient delay during tuberculosis screening in rural Cameroon

Alexis Cambanis, Andy Ramsay, Mohammed A Yassin, Luis E Cuevas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: (i) To determine patient delay - the time from the onset of symptoms to presentation at a health facility - and its causes in patients undergoing sputum smear examination in Cameroon; and (ii) to compare the results with those of a previous study in Ethiopia.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 243 consecutive patients using a structured questionnaire.

RESULTS: Median (interquartile range) patient delay in Cameroon was 2.0 (1-4) weeks, shorter than the 4.3 (2-13) week delay in Ethiopia. Significantly fewer patients delayed more than 1, 2 and 3 months in Cameroon than in Ethiopia (P < 0.001). Delays in Cameroon were significantly associated with being the main income earner, the belief that TB is stigmatizing, and the use of traditional medicine - the latter being the only factor significant in both studies.

CONCLUSION: Engaging traditional healers in TB control programs and reducing stigma through education could help to reduce patient delays, accelerate diagnosis, improve clinical outcomes and reduce disease transmission. These results, when placed in context of national human development indices, suggest that economic development, investment in health care and literacy may all be involved in improving access to TB services in sub-Saharan Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-14
Number of pages6
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cameroon/epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary/diagnosis


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