Healthwatch Reading survey reveals what Reading people know about tuberculosis

Posted 13/03/2018

Nearly two-thirds of people think that Reading residents do not know enough about tuberculosis (TB), according to a community engagement project by Healthwatch Reading.

The project was carried out to find out the level of public awareness of the infectious disease, in order to help tackle higher-than-average rates of TB in Reading.

Healthwatch Reading surveyed a diverse mix of 326 local people, including 16-34-year-olds, people born outside of the UK, and people who have been homeless, who can all be more at risk of TB. The findings show:

  • 65% of people do not feel that Reading residents know enough about TB
  • 80% or more people knew that persistent coughing, or coughing up blood are symptoms of TB; but only 26% knew another symptom can be swollen feet, only 57% knew that vomiting was also a symptom and only 58% were aware that losing weight is another sign
  • 65% knew, correctly, that living in overcrowded homes is a risk factor for TB, but 61% wrongly believed you can get TB by sharing a toothbrush with someone who has TB
  • 51% mistakenly believed that people with latent (‘sleeping’) TB can pass TB on to others
  • 32% believed (wrongly) that the BCG vaccine protects you from TB for life
  • 30% believed (wrongly) that having a TB test/treatment can affect your UK immigration status if you come from another country
  • 25% do not know that you can carry TB germs even if an X-ray shows you have a clear chest
  • 36% would be embarrassed to tell family or friends if they had TB
  • 41% do not feel that TB is relevant to them or their family
  • 83% believe NHS staff would treat TB-infected people with respect.

The findings will be discussed by local councillors at a meeting of the Reading Health and Wellbeing Board on 16 March 2018.

South Reading Clinical Commisisoning Group and Reading Borough Council’s Public Health Team asked Healthwatch Reading to carry out the project and have said the findings will be used to inform a future TB Action Plan.

Visit out TB information webpage for commons questions and answers about TB, including details of how to access free screening at Royal Berkshire Hospital.

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