Background Tuberculosis (TB) rates in England are among the highest in high-income countries. Poverty and historic and current immigration from high TB incidence parts of the world are two major drivers of tuberculosis in England. However, little has been done in recent years to examine socio-economic trends in TB rates in England, and to disentangle the role of deprivation from that of place of birth in the current TB epidemiology. Objectives To assess the association between England's 2008-2012 TB notification rates and small area-level deprivation, together and separately in the UK-born and foreign-born populations. Methods Ecological analysis of the association between quintiles of England's 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) and TB rates at the Lower-layer Super Output Area (LSOA; average population ~1500) level, using negative binomial and zero-inflated negative binomial regression models, adjusting for age, sex, urban/rural area classification, and area-level percentage of non-White residents. Results There was a log-linear gradient between area-deprivation levels and TB rates, with overall TB rates in the most deprived quintile areas three times higher than the least deprived quintile after adjustment for age and sex (IRR = 3.35; 95%CI: 3.16 to 3.55). The association and gradient were stronger in the UK-born than the foreign-born population, with UK-born TB rates in the most deprived quintiles about two-and-a-half times higher than the least deprived quintile (IRR = 2.39; 95%CI: 2.19 to 2.61) after controlling for age, sex, urban/rural classification and percentage of non-White residents; whereas the comparable figure for foreign- born persons was 80% higher (IRR = 1.78; 95%CI: 1.66 to 1.91). Conclusions Socio-economic deprivation continues to play a substantial role in sustaining the TB epidemic in England, especially in the UK-born population. This supports the case for further investigations of the underlying social- determinants of TB.
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