Tuberculosis care for migrant patients in Portugal: a mixed methods study with primary healthcare providers

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BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) is still a major global health problem. The increasing number of cases observed among foreign-born populations contrasts with the decreasing trends observed in later years in some high-income countries. Healthcare providers are key interveners in the control of TB and HIV-TB infections. In this study, we aimed to explore the perspectives of healthcare providers working in primary care in Portugal about the provision of TB care for migrant patients with TB or HIV-TB co-infection.

METHODS: We applied a mixed-methods approach using an online survey and semi-structured interviews with primary healthcare providers. A total of 120 Portuguese healthcare providers participated in the survey, and 17 were interviewed. Survey and interview data were analysed applying descriptive statistics and thematic analysis, respectively.

RESULTS: Migrants' lack of knowledge on TB disease and its symptoms was the main reason for advanced-stage presentation of cases. Their high mobility and social isolation affect adherence to treatment. The providers also listed several barriers to migrants' access and use of TB care. The most frequently referred were limited socioeconomic resources, complex bureaucracy at the point of access and registration for healthcare services, especially for undocumented migrants, and obstacles for social protection. Providers also advocated more training initiatives on migrants' health, social and cultural contexts, on HIV and TB integrated care, and on TB scientific update for general practitioners and nurses working at primary healthcare centres.

CONCLUSIONS: Future efforts should provide measures to overcome social, economic and administrative obstacles to care for TB-infected migrants, and promote regular training initiatives for national healthcare providers in order to raise awareness and facilitate better care to culturally diverse populations with TB.

Original languageEnglish
Article number233
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2019


  • HIV-TB
  • Healthcare providers
  • Migrants
  • Mixed methods research
  • Tuberculosis


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