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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

U.S. medical resident familiarity with national tuberculosis guidelines

Petros C Karakousis12*, Frangiscos G Sifakis3, Ruben Montes de Oca3, Valerianna C Amorosa4, Kathleen R Page1, Yukari C Manabe1 and James D Campbell5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA

2 Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA

3 Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA

4 Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA

5 Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2007, 7:89  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-89

Published: 2 August 2007



The ability of medical residents training at U.S. urban medical centers to diagnose and manage tuberculosis cases has important public health implications. We assessed medical resident knowledge about tuberculosis diagnosis and early management based on American Thoracic Society guidelines.


A 20-question tuberculosis knowledge survey was administered to 131 medical residents during a single routinely scheduled teaching conference at four different urban medical centers in Baltimore and Philadelphia. Survey questions were divided into 5 different subject categories. Data was collected pertaining to institution, year of residency training, and self-reported number of patients managed for tuberculosis within the previous year. The Kruskal-Wallis test was used to detect differences in median percent of questions answered correctly based on these variables.


The median percent of survey questions answered correctly for all participating residents was 55%. Medical resident knowledge about tuberculosis did not improve with increasing post-graduate year of training or greater number of patients managed for tuberculosis within the previous year. Common areas of knowledge deficiency included the diagnosis and management of latent tuberculosis infection (median percent correct, 40.7%), as well as the interpretation of negative acid-fast sputum smear samples.


Many medical residents lack adequate knowledge of recommended guidelines for the management of tuberculosis. Since experience during training influences future practice pattterns, education of medical residents on guidelines for detection and early management of tuberculosis may be important for future improvements in national tuberculosis control strategies.