Does the integration of TB medical services in the general hospital improve the quality of TB care? Evidence from a case study in China

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BackgroundMoving the clinical services from tuberculosis (TB) dispensary to the integrated county hospital (called integrated approach) has been practiced in China; however, it is unknown the quality of TB care in the integrated approach and in the dispensary approach.MethodsA total of 202 new TB patients were investigated using structured questionnaires in three counties implementing the integrated approach and one county implementing the dispensary approach. The quality of TB care is measured based on success rate of treatment, medical expenditure, health system delay and second-line drug use.ResultsThe integrated approach showed a high success treatment rate. The medical expenditure in the integrated approach was USD 432, significantly lower than that in the dispensary approach (Z = −5.771, P < 0.001). The integrated approach had a shorter health system delay (5 days) than the dispensary approach (32 days). Twenty-six percent of patients in integrated hospitals were prescribed with second-line TB drugs, significantly lower than that in the TB dispensary (47%, χ2 = 7.452, P = 0.006). However, the medical expenditure, use of second-line anti-TB drug and liver-protection drugs indeed varied greatly across the three integrated hospitals.ConclusionsThe integrated approach showed better quality of TB care, but the performance of the integrated hospitals varied greatly. A method to standardize TB treatment and management of this approach is urgent.

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