Predicting the impact of patient and private provider behavior on diagnostic delay for pulmonary tuberculosis patients in India: A simulation modeling study

Autoři: Sarang Deo aff001;  Simrita Singh aff001;  Neha Jha aff001;  Nimalan Arinaminpathy aff004;  Puneet Dewan aff005
Působiště autorů: Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India aff001;  Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, United States of America aff002;  Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America aff003;  School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom aff004;  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, Washington, United States of America aff005
Vyšlo v časopise: Predicting the impact of patient and private provider behavior on diagnostic delay for pulmonary tuberculosis patients in India: A simulation modeling study. PLoS Med 17(5): e32767. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003039
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003039



Tuberculosis (TB) incidence in India continues to be high due, in large part, to long delays experienced by patients before successful diagnosis and treatment initiation, especially in the private sector. This diagnostic delay is driven by patients’ inclination to switch between different types of providers and providers’ inclination to delay ordering of accurate diagnostic tests relevant to TB. Our objective is to quantify the impact of changes in these behavioral characteristics of providers and patients on diagnostic delay experienced by pulmonary TB patients.

Methods and findings

We developed a discrete event simulation model of patients’ diagnostic pathways that captures key behavioral characteristics of providers (time to order a test) and patients (time to switch to another provider). We used an expectation-maximization algorithm to estimate the parameters underlying these behavioral characteristics, with quantitative data encoded from detailed interviews of 76 and 64 pulmonary TB patients in the 2 Indian cities of Mumbai and Patna, respectively, which were conducted between April and August 2014. We employed the estimated model to simulate different counterfactual scenarios of diagnostic pathways under altered behavioral characteristics of providers and patients to predict their potential impact on the diagnostic delay. Private healthcare providers including chemists were the first point of contact for the majority of TB patients in Mumbai (70%) and Patna (94%). In Mumbai, 45% of TB patients first approached less-than-fully-qualified providers (LTFQs), who take 28.71 days on average for diagnosis. About 61% of these patients switched to other providers without a diagnosis. Our model estimates that immediate testing for TB by LTFQs at the first visit (at the current level of diagnostic accuracy) could reduce the average diagnostic delay from 35.53 days (95% CI: 34.60, 36.46) to 18.72 days (95% CI: 18.01, 19.43). In Patna, 61% of TB patients first approached fully qualified providers (FQs), who take 9.74 days on average for diagnosis. Similarly, immediate testing by FQs at the first visit (at the current level of diagnostic accuracy) could reduce the average diagnostic delay from 23.39 days (95% CI: 22.77, 24.02) to 11.16 days (95% CI: 10.52, 11.81). Improving the diagnostic accuracy of providers per se, without reducing the time to testing, was not predicted to lead to any reduction in diagnostic delay. Our study was limited because of its restricted geographic scope, small sample size, and possible recall bias, which are typically associated with studies of patient pathways using patient interviews.


In this study, we found that encouraging private providers to order definitive TB diagnostic tests earlier during patient consultation may have substantial impact on reducing diagnostic delay in these urban Indian settings. These results should be combined with disease transmission models to predict the impact of changes in provider behavior on TB incidence.

Klíčová slova:

Diagnostic medicine – Chemists – India – Patients – Public and occupational health – Simulation and modeling – Tuberculosis – Tuberculosis diagnosis and management


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