Social disparities in tuberculosis have been documented for decades, yet to date there has not been a comprehensive study to examine the contemporary causes of these disparities. Local public health departments, and particularly public health nursing staff are charged with delivering directly observed therapy to individuals with tuberculosis disease. As a result of the frequency and duration of treatment, practitioners delivering therapy are often well-acquainted with the lives and challenges of their constituents. Thus, through these practitioners there exists a deep repository of knowledge on the drivers of social disparities in tuberculosis disease. Partnering with local public health departments, we developed a survey instrument aimed at understanding the social profile of individuals with tuberculosis disease in metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. We discuss the development and implementation of the survey instrument as well as challenges in developing partnerships between academic researchers and local public health practitioners. This study can serve as a framework for both academic researchers and public health practitioners interested in addressing social disparities in infectious disease.