Urban-rural inequities in knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding tuberculosis in two districts of Pakistan's Punjab province

Muhammad Umair Mushtaq, Ubeera Shahid, Hussain Muhammad Abdullah, Anum Saeed, Fatima Omer, Mushtaq Ahmad Shad, Arif Mahmood Siddiqui, Javed Akram
International Journal for Equity in Health 2011, 10: 8

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore inequities in knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding tuberculosis (TB) among the urban and rural populations.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study was conducted in two districts of Pakistan's Punjab province. The 1080 subjects aged 20 years and above, including 432 urban and 648 rural respondents, were randomly selected using multistage cluster sampling and interviewed after taking verbal informed consent. Logistic regression was used to calculate the crude odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for the urban area. The differences in knowledge, attitudes, practices and information sources between the urban and rural respondents were highlighted using Pearson chi-square test and Fisher's exact test.

RESULTS: The study revealed poor knowledge regarding TB. The deficit was greater in the rural areas in all aspects. The knowledge regarding symptoms (OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.59-2.61), transmission (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.44-2.59), prevention (OR 2.24, 95% CI 1.70-2.96), duration of standard treatment (OR 1.88, 95% 1.41-2.49) and DOTS (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.43-2.38) was significantly higher in the urban areas (all P < 0.001). Although a majority of the subjects (urban 83.8%, rural 81.2%) were aware of the correct treatment for TB, less than half (urban 48.1%, rural 49.2%) were aware of the availability of the diagnostic facility and treatment free of cost. The practice of seeking treatment at a health facility (P = 0.030; OR 2.01, 95% CI 1.06-3.82), as soon as they realized that they had TB symptoms (P < 0.001; OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.26-2.35), was significantly higher in the urban areas. People in the urban areas were more likely to feel ashamed and embarrassed being a TB patient (P < 0.001; OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.50-2.76); however, they seem to be supportive in case their family member suffered from TB (P = 0.005; OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.13-2.06). Nearly half of the respondents, irrespective of the area of residence, believed that the community rejects the TB patient (urban 49.8%, rural 46.4%). Television (urban 80.1%, rural 68.1%) and health workers (urban 30.6%, rural 41.4%) were the main sources for people to acquire the TB related information.

CONCLUSION: Respondents' knowledge regarding TB was deficient in all aspects, particularly in the rural areas. Intended health seeking behavior was better in the urban areas. Television and health workers were the main sources for TB related information in both the urban as well as the rural areas. Therefore, the area of residence should be considered in tailoring communication strategies and designing future interventions for TB prevention and control.

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