Background: Tuberculosis (TB) patients face numerous difficulties adhering to the long-term, rigorous TB treatment regimen. Findings on TB patients' treatment adherence vary across existing literature and official reports. The present study attempted to determine the actual treatment adherence of new TB patients and to identify factors leading to non-adherence.
Methods: A prospective cohort of 481 newly confirmed TB patients from three counties in western China were enrolled during June to December 2012 and was followed until June 2013. Patients who missed at least one dose of drugs or one follow-up re-examination during the treatment course were deemed as non-adherent. Influencing factors were identified using a logistic regression model.
Results: A total of 173 (36.0 %) patients experienced non-adherence and the loss to follow-up cases reached 136 (28.2 %). Only 13.9 % of patients took drugs under direct observation, and 60.5 % of patients were supervised by phone calls. Factor analyses suggested that patients who were observed by family members (OR:5.54, 95 % CI:2.87-10.69) and paying monthly service expenses above 450 RMB (OR:2.08, 95 % CI:1.35-3.19) were more likely to be non-adherent, while supervision by home visit (OR:0.06, 95 % CI:0.01-0.28) and phone calls (OR:0.27, 95 % CI:0.17-0.44) were protective factors.
Conclusions: Despite recent efforts, a large proportion of newly confirmed TB patients could not adhere to standard TB treatment, and patients' lost to follow-up was still a serious problem. Poor treatment supervision and heavy financial burden might be the main causes for non-adherence. More needs to be done to enhance treatment supervision policies and financial supports to both health providers and TB patients.
Keywords: Adherence; China; Prospective cohort study; Tuberculosis.