Open Access Research article

Comparing patient care seeking pathways in three models of hospital and TB programme collaboration in China

Xiaolin Wei1, Guanyang Zou2, Jia Yin2, John Walley2 and Qiang Sun3*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2/F, School of Public Health and Primary Care, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong, N.T, China

2 Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, University of Leeds, 101 Clarendon Rd, LS2 9LJ, Leeds, UK

3 Center for Health Management and Policy, Shandong University, No 44 Wenhua Rd, Mailbox 128, Jinan, Shandong 250012, China

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:93  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-93

Published: 20 February 2013



Public hospitals in China play an important role in tuberculosis (TB) control. Three models of hospital and TB control exist in China. The dispensary model is the most common one in which a TB dispensary provides both clinical and public health care. The specialist model is similar to the former except that a specialist TB hospital is located in the same area. The specialist hospital should treat only complicated TB cases but it also treats simple cases in practice. The integrated model is a new development to integrate TB service in public hospitals. Patients were diagnosed, treated and followed up in this public hospital in this model while the TB dispensary provides public health service as case reporting and mass education. This study aims to compare patient care seeking pathways under the three models, and to provide policy recommendation for the TB control system reform in China.


Six sites, two in each model, were selected across four provinces, with 293 newly treated uncomplicated TB patients being randomly selected.


The majority (68%) of TB patients were diagnosed in hospitals. Patients in the integrated model presented the simplest care seeking pathways, with the least number of providers visited (2.2), shortest treatment delays (2 days) and the least medical expenditure (2729RMB/401USD). On the contrary, patients in the specialist model had the highest number of provider visits (4), longest treatment delays (23 days) and the highest medical expenditure (11626RMB/1710USD). Logistic regression suggested that patients who were hospitalised tended to have longer treatment delays and higher medical expenditure.


Specialist hospital treating uncomplicated cases not using the standard regimens posed a threat to TB control. The integrated model has shortened patient treatment pathways, and reduced patient costs; therefore, it could be considered as the direction for future reform of China’s TB control system.

Tuberculosis; Care pathway; Hospital TB collaboration; China