Addressing social determinants of tuberculosis (TB) is essential to achieve elimination, including in low-incidence settings. We measured the association between socio-economic status and intermediate social determinants of health (SDHs, including drug misuse, tobacco smoking and alcohol), and TB, taking into account their clustering in individuals. We conducted a case-control study in 23–38 years old UK-born White adults with first tuberculosis episode, and randomly selected age and sex frequency-matched community controls. Data was collected on education, household overcrowding, tobacco smoking, alcohol and drugs use, and history of homelessness and prison. Analyses were done using logistic regression models, informed by a formal theoretical causal framework (Directed Acyclic Graph). 681 TB cases and 1183 controls were recruited. Tuberculosis odds were four times higher in subjects with education below GCSE O-levels, compared to higher education (OR = 3.94; 95%CI: 2.74, 5.67), after adjusting for other TB risk factors (age, sex, BCG-vaccination and stays ≥3 months in Africa/Asia). When simultaneously accounting for respective SDHs, higher tuberculosis risk was independently associated with tobacco smoking, drugs use (especially injectable drugs OR = 5.67; 95%CI: 2.68, 11.98), homelessness and area-level deprivation. Population Attributable Fraction estimates suggested that tobacco and class-A drug use were, respectively, responsible for 18% and 15% of TB cases in this group. Our findings suggest that socio-economic deprivation remains a driver of tuberculosis in England, including through drugs misuse, tobacco smoking, and homelessness. These findings further support the integration of health and social services in high-risk young adults to improve TB control efforts.
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We are grateful for all study participants who generously offered their time, as well as the efforts of the whole research team, including the interviewers, supervisors and the operation team members at NatCen. We also thank colleagues from Public Health England’s TB Section for their support in obtaining data, Lucy Trinder for help in data cleaning and management. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) [grant number 08/17/01] through funding to P.M., L.C.R. and I.A. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
© 2020, The Author(s).