Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
ARMIJOS, Rodrigo X.; WEIGEL, M. Margaret; QINCHA, Matilde and ULLOA, Bernarda. The meaning and consequences of tuberculosis for an at-risk urban group in Ecuador. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.23, n.3, pp. 188-197. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892008000300006.
OBJECTIVE: To explore knowledge, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes about tuberculosis (TB) in a high-risk group in Ecuador. This included signs and symptoms, causation, transmission, treatment, treatment adherence, impact on lifestyle and role functioning, and stigma. METHODS: A convenience sample of 212 adults undergoing diagnostic TB testing at a public health facility in Quito, Ecuador, was recruited for the study. Data were collected from subjects during face-to-face interviews using a structured instrument containing closed and open-ended questions. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were used for quantitative analyses; content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. RESULTS: Most subjects were familiar with TB and some of its characteristics and treatment aspects. However, many also held misconceptions or lacked key knowledge which could adversely affect early diagnosis and treatment and adherence to treatment, and thereby allow the disease to spread. Subject education was the single most important predictor of knowledge, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes followed by gender, age, and prior disease experience. The subjects linked TB to multiple adverse health, economic, psychological, and social consequences, including stigma. Although none knew if they had TB when interviewed, many reported feeling stigmatized just by being tested. The subjects identified a strong need for formal educational opportunities to learn about TB prevention and control but had little access to these. CONCLUSIONS: The study findings highlight a need for enhanced population access to TB education. Health education and social marketing directed toward increasing TB knowledge and changing perceptions and attitudes could ultimately contribute to improved early diagnosis, treatment adherence, prevention, and decreased stigma. This could be accomplished providing that the public health infrastructure is adequate to meet demands.
Keywords : Tuberculosis, pulmonary [prevention and control]; communicable disease; health promotion; Ecuador.