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barriers, pediatric tuberculosis, qualitative research, treatment delay

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Background: Timely diagnosis and treatment of pediatric tuberculosis (TB) is critical to reducing mortality but remains challenging in the absence of adequate diagnostic tools. Even once a TB diagnosis is made, delays in treatment initiation are common, but for reasons that are not well understood.

Methods: To examine reasons for delay post-diagnosis, we conducted semi-structured interviews with Ministry of Health (MoH) physicians and field workers affiliated with a pediatric TB diagnostic study, and caregivers of children aged 0–14 years who were diagnosed with pulmonary TB in Lima, Peru. Interviews were analyzed using systematic comparative and descriptive content analysis.

Results: We interviewed five physicians, five field workers and 26 caregivers with children who initiated TB treatment < 7 days after diagnosis (n = 15) or who experienced a delay of ≥7 days (n = 11). Median time in delay from diagnosis to treatment initiation was 26 days (range 7–117). Reasons for delay included: health systems challenges (administrative hurdles, medication stock, clinic hours), burden of care on families and caregiver perceptions of disease severity.

Conclusions: Reasons for delay in treatment initiation are complex. Interventions to streamline administrative processes and tools to identify and support families at risk for delays in treatment initiation are urgently needed.

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The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, v. 24, issue 12, p. 1254-1260

© International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

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