Objective: To analyze characteristics related to adherence to tuberculosis treatment in tuberculosis outpatient clinics.
Methods: An ecological study was conducted in outpatient clinics for the treatment of tuberculosis cases in the sanitary districts of Salvador, Northeastern Brazil, in 2006. The sample was composed of the municipal health units that assisted 67.2% of the 2,283 tuberculosis cases that were reported during the year. The following variables were analyzed: cure, dropout, tests, health team and benefits offered to the patients. Chi-square test or Fisher's exact test was used to verify the association between variables, and associations with p<0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.
Results: Of the studied cases, 78.4% resulted in cure, 8.6% in dropout, 2.2% in death and 8.1% in transference. Adherence rates per health unit varied between 66.7% and 98.1%. The variables cure and dropout showed a statistically significant association with adherence in the comparison of proportions. All the units with high adherence rates had complete health teams.
Conclusions: Adherence was an important factor for the outcomes cure and dropout, but the index of units that achieved the cure goals was low. The presence of a complete multidisciplinary team in the tuberculosis program may help the patient understand his/her illness and contribute to adherence to treatment.