Timing of default from tuberculosis treatment: a systematic review

Trop Med Int Health. 2008 May;13(5):703-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2008.02042.x. Epub 2008 Feb 11.


Objectives: To provide a systematic assessment of the timing of default from tuberculosis (TB) treatment which could help to quantify the potential contribution of new shorter duration TB drugs to global TB control.

Methods: We performed a systematic review following QUOROM guidelines. MEDLINE was searched from 1998 to the present using the terms TB and default or drop-out or compliance or adherence and therapy. A total of 840 articles were returned. A further detailed manual review selected 15 randomized trials and observational studies that reported timing of drop-out and focused on developing countries.

Results: The selected studies comprised randomized controlled trials, retrospective record reviews, and qualitative assessments and spanned 10 countries. Both directly observed treatment (DOT) and non-DOT programs were represented. Thus results were highly heterogeneous and not statistically aggregated. Data suggest, but do not conclude, that the majority of defaulters across the studies completed the 2-month intensive phase of treatment.

Conclusions: There is insufficient high-quality comparable information on the timing of default from TB treatment to permit any firm conclusions on trends in default. However, a substantial proportion of defaulters appear to leave treatment in the later stages of the current 6-month regimen, suggesting that new TB chemotherapeutic agents which can reduce the length of treatment have the potential to improve global TB treatment success rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Developing Countries
  • Directly Observed Therapy
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Refusal*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*


  • Antitubercular Agents