Setting: Six New York State Department of Health tuberculosis (TB) directly observed therapy (DOT) programs in public, private and community facilities in New York City.
Objective: A key feature of the TB DOT program was provision of incentives to motivate patients and increase adherence to therapy. The study hypothesis was that adherence will improve as the value of incentives increases and bonuses are added in a schedule of increasing rewards.
Design: The study population consisted of 365 patients in six inner city TB DOT programs. Interviews, clinical data and attendance records for 3+ years were analyzed.
Results: Patients who adhered (attending 80% of prescribed DOT visits each month of treatment) and those who did not were similar on seven demographic factors (e.g., age and sex), but were significantly different on clinical and social variables. Previous TB, resistance to rifampin, human immunodeficiency virus infection, psychiatric illness, homelessness, smoking and drug use were related to non-adherence. High adherence was significantly associated with fewer months in treatment (P < 0.016). Logistic regression showed that the odds that a patient would adhere to therapy were greater with increased incentives. Odds of adherence were significantly lower with rifampin resistance and psychiatric illness.
Conclusion: Increasing incentives is associated with improved adherence to therapy in inner city TB populations.