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Is depression associated with pathways to care and diagnosis delay in people with tuberculosis in Ethiopia?

  • F. Ambaw (a1) (a2), R. Mayston (a3), C. Hanlon (a2) (a3) (a4) and A. Alem (a2)



Co-morbid depression is common in people with tuberculosis (TB). Symptoms of depression (low energy, impaired concentration, decreased motivation and hopelessness) may affect help-seeking; however, this impact has not been studied so far. The objectives of this study were to assess the impact of co-morbid depression on diagnostic delay, pathways to care, and to identify if it mediates other factors associated with diagnostic delay.


We analyzed cross-sectional data collected from 592 adults with newly diagnosed TB. We assessed probable depression using Patient Health Questionnaire, nine items (PHQ-9) at a cut-off 10. Data on diagnosis delay, pathways to TB care, socio-demographic variables, stigma, types of TB, substance use, co-morbid chronic illnesses, and perception about TB were assessed using a structured questionnaire. Generalized structural equation modelling was used to analyze the data.


A total of 313 (52.9%) participants had probable depression. Pathway to TB care was direct for 512 (86.5%) of the participants and indirect for 80 (13.5%) of them. The median diagnosis delay was 12.0 weeks. Depression did not have a statistically significant association with pathways to TB care (β = −0.45; 95% CI−1.85 to 0.96) or diagnostic delay [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.90; 0.77–1.06]. Indirect pathway to TB care was positively associated with diagnosis delay (AOR = 2.72; 95% CI 1.25–5.91).


People with TB who had co-morbid probable depression visited the modern health care as directly as and as soon as those without co-morbid depression. How socio-demographic factors influence pathways to care and diagnosis delay require qualitative exploration.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: F. Ambaw, School of Public Health, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. (Email:


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