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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Variations of care quality for infectious pulmonary tuberculosis in Taiwan: a population based cohort study

Wei-Sheng Chung12, Ray-E Chang25* and How-Ran Guo34

Author Affiliations

1 Hualien General Hospital, Department of Heath, Executive Yuan, Hualien, Taiwan

2 Graduate Institute of Health Care Organization Administration, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan

4 Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan

5 No. 17, Shu-Chow Rd., Room 639, Taipei 100, Taiwan

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:107  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-107

Published: 11 June 2007



Effective and efficient care is required to prevent the spread of infectious pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB). We attempted to compare care quality among different healthcare institutions in Southern Taiwan.


This study conducted population-based retrospective cohort design. One tuberculosis sanatorium, 2 medical centers, 11 regional hospitals, and 15 district hospitals and primary practitioners in the study area had reported tuberculosis cases, registered from January 1 to June 30 2003. Those cases with sputum positive PTB were followed 15 months after anti-tuberculosis treatment initiation. Meanwhile, Level of conformance with diagnostic guidelines, efficiency of diagnostic and treatment process, and treatment were measured as main outcome. Association was investigated using Chi-square tests, Kruskal Wallis tests, Mann-Whiteney U tests, and multiple logistic regression analysis to evaluate outcome differences among different levels of institutions.


The analyses included 421 patients. In comparison with patients receiving treatment at medical centers, regional hospitals, and district hospitals/primary practitioners, patients at the Chest Specialty Hospital were more likely to provide at least three sputum specimens (74.1% vs. 48.2%, 36.8%, and 50.0%), shorter workdays examining sputum smears (2.4 ± 2.4 days vs. 2.6 ± 2.1, 4.5 ± 3.1, and 3.5 ± 2.6 days), shorter interval between the first consultation and treatment (10.1 ± 18.3 days vs. 31.0 ± 53.6, 31.2 ± 70.4, and 25.4 ± 37.6 days), and a higher successful treatment rate (92.6% vs. 65.2%, 63.9%, and 68.0%). Furthermore, after adjusting age and gender, the patients treated by the pulmonologists and treated at Chest Specialty Hospital had significantly more successful treatment rate, of which odds ratios were 1.74 and 4.58 respectively.


Differences in care quality exist among different types of healthcare institutions and among individual physicians. The implementation of practice guidelines should contribute to an improvement in the care quality of the treatment and diagnosis of PTB.