Project Title: Factors Associated with Identifying Tuberculosis Contacts

Principal Investigator(s): Robin Shrestha-Kuwahara, MPH1

Project Dates: 1999; Published in December 2003

Background: Little is documented about why some tuberculosis (TB) patients identify few or even no contacts. Focus group discussions were conducted to examine factors associated with identifying TB contacts.

Objectives: To describe patient perceptions of the contact investigation interview and determine potential factors associated with identifying TB contacts

Target Audience: TB patients

Methods:  A total of 13 focus group discussions were conducted, 10 with previously smear-positive pulmonary TB patients born in the United States or Mexico, and three with TB program staff to discuss attitudes toward and perceptions of the contact investigation interview. Patients were recruited into separate groups by country of birth and number of contacts identified.

Results: The data indicated that patients-even those who identified few contacts-overwhelmingly reported identifying contacts easily and willingly. Understanding the purpose of the contact investigation and seriousness of TB facilitated naming contacts, while miscommunication and misconceptions about TB hindered the process. Patients felt strongly about informing their contacts before the health department contacted them. Staff respondents reported that education and effective communication were critical during contact investigation interviewing. Data indicated that patients, including those identifying few contacts, reported wanting to name their contacts. However, misconceptions may affect their understanding of who their contacts are, and hence the quantity and quality of information about the contacts identified. These findings underscore the need for effective communication and education.

Contact Information:
Robin Shrestha-Kuwahara, MPH
Behavioral Scientist
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
1600 Clifton Road, NE, Mailstop E-10
Atlanta, GA 30333

Shrestha-Kuwahara R, Wilce M, DeLuca N, Taylor Z. Factors associated with identifying tuberculosis contacts. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis 2003;7(12): S510-516.

Relative Content:

1 Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention