Setting: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, a predominantly rural province with a high burden of tuberculosis (TB), multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Objective: To determine the most effective care model by comparing MDR-TB treatment outcomes at community-based sites with traditional care at a central, specialised hospital.
Design: A non-randomised observational prospective cohort study comparing community-based and centralised care. Patients at community-based sites were closer to home and had easier access to care, and home-based care was available from treatment initiation.
Results: Four community-based sites treated 736 patients, while 813 were treated at the centralised hospital (total = 1549 patients). Overall, 75% were HIV co-infected (community: 76% vs. hospitalised: 73%, P = 0.45) and 86% received antiretroviral therapy (community: 91% vs. hospitalised: 82%, P = 0.22). On multivariate analysis, MDR-TB patients were more likely to have a successful treatment outcome if they were treated at a community-based site (adjusted OR 1.43, P = 0.01). However, outcomes at the four community-based sites were heterogeneous, with Site 1 demonstrating that home-based care was associated with an increased treatment success of 72% compared with success rates of 52-60% at the other three sites.
Conclusion: Community-based care for MDR-TB patients was more effective than care in a central, specialised hospital. Home-based care further increased treatment success.