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Open Access Research article

Knowledge and awareness of tuberculosis among Roma population in Belgrade: a qualitative study

Dejana S Vukovic1* and Ljudmila M Nagorni-Obradovic2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Social Medicine (Dr Subotica 15), Faculty of Medicine Belgrade (11000), Serbia

2 Clinics for Pulmology (Koste Todorovica 26), Clinical Centre of Serbia, Faculty of Medicine Belgrade (11000), Serbia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:284  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-284

Published: 24 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Tuberculosis (TB) remains an important health problem in the Roma population in Serbia. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of increasing awareness of TB and reducing the associated stigmas to reduce the incidence of TB and enable earlier diagnosis and effective treatment. This study investigated the knowledge and beliefs about transmission, symptoms and treatment of TB as well as attitudes towards patients with TB among the Roma population in Belgrade.

Methods

The focus-group method was considered to be appropriate for investigating knowledge and beliefs about TB. A total of 24 Roma people aged 19-55 years participated in three focus-group discussions.

Results

All participants knew that TB was a pulmonary disease and could be contagious. Saliva was the most commonly mentioned mode of transmission. Some individuals thought, albeit hesitantly, that TB could be transmitted by shaking hands with an infected individual. Of factors contributing to TB, participants mentioned bad living conditions, low quality and lack of food, and stress. Participants quoted chest pain, cough, haemoptysis, loss of appetite, loss of weight, weakness and sweating as basic symptoms of TB. Participants believed that effective treatment should include resting, taking prescribed medicines, inhaling fresh air and eating "strong" food such as bacon and pork; these approaches were considered as important as taking antibiotics). In addition, participants mentioned that they use some folk medicines.

Relatives and friends, and to a lesser extent television, were the main sources of information about TB. Participants most appreciate personal contact with doctors as a source of information.

Conclusions

We concluded that participants were aware of the seriousness TB as well as some of the modes of transmission; however, they had some misconceptions. An important finding was the confidence in doctors expressed by the Roma people.