High levels of defaulting from treatment challenge tuberculosis control in many African cities. We assessed defaulting from tuberculosis treatment in an African urban setting.
An observational study among adult patients with smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis receiving treatment at urban primary care clinics in Kampala, Uganda. Defaulting was defined as having missed two consecutive monthly clinic visits while not being reported to have died or continued treatment elsewhere. Defaulting patients were actively followed-up and interviewed. We assessed proportions of patients abandoning treatment with and without the information obtained through active follow-up and we examined associated factors through multivariable logistic regression.
Between April 2007 and April 2008, 270 adults aged ≥15 years were included; 54 patients (20%) were recorded as treatment defaulters. On active follow-up vital status was established of 28/54 (52%) patients. Of these, 19 (68%) had completely stopped treatment, one (4%) had died and eight (29%) had continued treatment elsewhere. Extrapolating this to all defaulters meant that 14% rather than 20% of all patients had truly abandoned treatment. Daily consumption of alcohol, recorded at the start of treatment, predicted defaulting (adjusted odds ratio [ORadj] 4.4, 95%CI 1.8–13.5), as did change of residence during treatment (ORadj 8.7, 95%CI 1.8–41.5); 32% of patients abandoning treatment had changed residence.
A high proportion of tuberculosis patients in primary care clinics in Kampala abandon treatment. Assessing change of residence during scheduled clinic appointments may serve as an early warning signal that the patient may default and needs adherence counseling.
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