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The experience of college students with pulmonary tuberculosis in Shaanxi, China: a qualitative study

Shao-Ru Zhang1, Hong Yan2*, Jin-Jing Zhang1, Tian-Hua Zhang3, Xiao-Hong Li1 and Yin-Ping Zhang1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an city, China

2 Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an city, China

3 Shaanxi Provincial Institute for Tuberculosis Control and Prevention, Xi'an city, China

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:174  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-174

Published: 16 June 2010



The prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis among college students in Shaanxi is high. Although tuberculosis leaves much psychological and social impact on patients, little is known about its impact on college students. The objective of this study is to explore the experiences and psychological process of college students with pulmonary tuberculosis in Shaanxi, China.


17 college students with pulmonary tuberculosis were recruited purposively from 9 colleges in Shaanxi. In-depth interviews were conducted to collect data and a thematic framework analysis was used.


The participants reported that pulmonary tuberculosis deeply influenced their mental health. They were fearful to the nature of pulmonary tuberculosis at the stage of diagnosis, anxious about the illness before the period of diagnosis and the early week of the treatment, excessive worry immediately before the first recheck. They expected an early full recovery, bored on tedious treatment life and worried about future heath and prospects during the whole treatment phase. Their daily life was also influenced, namely discontinued studies, isolation and increased financial burden. They also reported that they could get strong supports from family members, while little supports from healthcare workers and their friends.


The participants' psychological pressure was significant during the treatment. In addition, there was serious conflict between treatment and study; social support provided for them was insufficient. Healthcare workers should provide psychological support for college students with pulmonary tuberculosis according to the psychological characteristics and offer social support through strengthening communication with them. Colleges should follow governmental policies on TB exactly and provide opportunities for the patients to continue their studies.