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Free Content Risk factors associated with default, failure and death among tuberculosis patients treated in a DOTS programme in Tiruvallur District, South India, 2000

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OBJECTIVE: To identify risk factors associated with default, failure and death among tuberculosis patients treated in a newly implemented DOTS programme in South India.

DESIGN: Analysis of all patients registered from May 1999 through April 2000. A community survey for active tuberculosis was underway in the area; patients identified in the community survey were also treated in this programme.

RESULTS: In all, 676 patients were registered during the period of the study. Among new smear-positive patients (n = 295), 74% were cured, 17% defaulted, 5% died and 4% failed treatment. In multivariate analysis (n = 676), higher default rates were associated with irregular treatment (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 4.3; 95%CI 2.5–7.4), being male (AOR 3.4; 95%CI 1.5–8.2), history of previous treatment (AOR 2.8; 95%CI 1.6–4.9), alcoholism (AOR 2.2; 95%CI 1.3–3.6), and diagnosis by community survey (AOR 2.1; 95%CI 1.2–3.6). Patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) were more likely to fail treatment (33% vs. 3%; P < 0.001). More than half of the patients receiving Category II treatment who remained sputum-positive after 3 or 4 months of treatment had MDR-TB, and a large proportion of these patients failed treatment. Higher death rates were independently associated with weight <35 kg (AOR 3.8; 95%CI 1.9–7.8) and history of previous treatment (AOR 3.3; 95%CI 1.5–7.0).

CONCLUSIONS: During this first year of DOTS implementation with sub-optimal performance, high rates of default and death were responsible for low cure rates. Male patients and those with alcoholism were at increased risk of default, as were patients identified by community survey. To prevent default, directly observed treatment should be made more convenient for patients. To reduce mortality, the possible role of nutritional interventions should be explored among underweight patients.

Keywords: DOTS; death; default; failure; risk factors; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai, India 2: World Health Organization, Stop Tuberculosis Unit, South East Asia Regional Office, New Delhi, India

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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