Objectives: To identify the general characteristics of patients with tuberculosis, and to evaluate their treatment outcomes.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: Tuberculosis and Chest Service, Department of Health, Hong Kong.
Subjects and methods: All patients with tuberculosis registered for treatment from 1 January 1996 to 31 December 1996 were included in the study. Information was extracted from their medical records at treatment commencement and at 12 and 24 months after treatment was instigated. Data gathered included demographic data, past treatment, site of disease, case category, treatment regimen, bacteriological status, and treatment outcome.
Results: There were 5757 patients for analysis. Approximately one third of patients were aged 60 years or older, and 69.1% were male. Pulmonary disease alone occurred in 77.7% of patients, while both pulmonary and extrapulmonary diseases occurred in 8.6%. New patients comprised 84.6% of cases, and 16.3% had concomitant illnesses. There was excess risk of disease among patients who were male, elderly, or who had silicosis. Only 0.1% of patients were co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus infection. Among the 5757 cases evaluated, 1324 (23.0%) were new patients with a positive sputum smear, 299 (5.2%) were patients who were retreated with a positive sputum smear, and 4134 (71.8%) were new or retreatment patients with a negative sputum smear. The overall treatment completion rates at 12 and 24 months were 80.4% and 84.8%, respectively. Males and patients aged 60 years or older had lower treatment completion rates. Non-adherence, transfer to other services, and mortality among the elderly were key factors influencing treatment outcomes. Co-morbidity was associated with better case-holding, and this more than compensated for its effect on prolongation of treatment and mortality.
Conclusions: There was an excess risk of tuberculosis among male and elderly patients, who also had a less favourable outcome. Active screening of clearly identified risk groups may be appropriate but requires the completion of more in-depth studies and careful cost-effectiveness analyses. Further efforts with respect to case-holding are indicated to address treatment defaulting and transfer rates.