BioScience Trends. 2012;6(6):296-302. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2012.v6.6.296)

A cross-sectional study of sputum handling by and supervision of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis treated at home in China.

Mei L, Tobe RG, Geng H, Ma YB, Li RY, Wang WB, Selotlegeng L, Wang XZ, Xu LZ


Disposal of sputum from patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) who are treated at home is an important aspect of preventing the spread of TB. However, few studies have examined disposal of sputum by patients with TB who are treated at home. Patients with pulmonary TB who are treated at home were surveyed regarding sputum handling and supervision. A cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of patients with pulmonary TB who are treated at home was conducted in Shandong Province. Participants were individuals with TB who had been registered with a local agency responsible for TB control. Participants completed a questionnaire with both qualitative and quantitative questions. How sputum was handled was determined and factors associated with sputum disposal were analyzed using a non-parametric test, logistic regression, and content analysis. Responses were received from 720 participants. Patients expectorated sputum 4.56 ± 10.367 times a day, and 68.6% of patients responded that they correctly disposed of their sputum. Supervision as part of TB control focused on the efforts of health agencies and paid little attention to waste management by patients. A non-parametric test showed that sputum disposal was significantly associated with gender, age, education, sputum smear results, attitudes toward waste management, and attitudes toward supervision (all p < 0.05). Logistic regression analysis showed that gender (OR = 0.482, 95% CI: 0.329-0.704), sputum smear results (OR = 1.300, 95% CI: 1.037-1.629), and level of education (OR = 0.685, 95% CI: 0.528-0.889) were associated with receipt of TB health education (all p < 0.05). Sputum handling by and supervision of patients with pulmonary TB who are treated at home is severely wanting. From a policy perspective, special attention should be given to the definition, details, and methods of supervision of waste management by patients with TB to give them relevant health education and enhance their willingness to be supervised. A financial incentive should be provided to health workers supervising management of TB-related waste.

KEYWORDS: Waste management, sputum, tuberculosis, supervision, cross-sectional survey

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