Risky behaviour and psychosocial correlates in adolescents - is there a link with tuberculosis?

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African Journal of Psychiatry

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University of Cape Town

Reasons for the increase in incidence of Tuberculosis (TB) in late adolescence are poorly understood. One hypothesis is that psychological and behavioural variables associated with adolescence may increase risk of developing TB. The study aimed to determine whether psychosocial and behavioural variables affect incidence of TB disease in adolescents. Methods: A case control study design was used in adolescents who were participants in a TB epidemiological study. Cases were adolescents diagnosed with TB disease. Approximately half of the controls had no TB disease but a positive TST indicative of latent TB. Half had neither TB disease nor latent TB. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by participants. The questionnaire consisted of a combination of standardised psychosocial instruments. Results: Of 292 participants, 62 were cases, 112 had latent TB and 118 neither TB disease nor latent TB. There were no significant differences in instrument scores between cases and controls. There was a trend for certain adverse life events to be more common in the TB-disease group. Conclusion: In adolescents, a trend for association between TB incidence and psychosocial and behavioural variables was not statistically significant. Given the trend, research with larger samples, and more comprehensive assessment of the relationship between stressors and TB, is warranted.