Tuberculosis treatment outcome and predictors in northern Ethiopian prisons: a five-year retrospective analysis

BMC Pulm Med. 2018 Feb 20;18(1):37. doi: 10.1186/s12890-018-0600-1.


Background: The prison situations are notorious for causing interruptions of tuberculosis (TB) treatment and occurrence of unfavorable outcomes. In Ethiopian prisons, though TB treatment programs exist, treatment outcome results and factors contributing to unsuccessful outcome are not well documented. In this study, we assessed the treatment outcome of TB cases and identified risk factors for unsuccessful outcome in northern Ethiopian prisons.

Methods: A retrospective record review was conducted for all prisoners diagnosed with TB between September 2011 and August 2015. Outcome variables were defined following WHO guidelines.

Results: Out of the 496 patients, 11.5% were cured, 68% completed treatment, 2.5% were lost to follow-up, 1.6% were with a treatment failure, 1.4% died, and 15% were transferred out. All transferred out or released prisoners were not appropriately linked to health facilities and might be lost to treatment follow-up. The overall treatment success rate (TSR) of the 5 years was 94% among the patients who were not transferred out. The odds of unsuccessful outcome were 4.68 times greater among re-treatment cases compared to the newly treated cases. The year of treatment was also associated with variations in TSR; those treated during the earlier year were more likely to have unsuccessful outcome. Sputum non-conversion at the second-month check-up was strongly associated with unsuccessful outcome among the smear-positive cases.

Conclusions: The mean TSR of the prisoners in the study prisons was quite satisfactory when gauged against the target level set by the End TB Strategy. However, the lack of appropriate linkage and tracking systems for those prisoners transferred or released before their treatment completion would have a negative implication for the national TB control program as such patients might interrupt their treatment and develop drug-resistant TB. Being in a re-treatment regimen and sputum non-conversion at the second-month check-up were significantly associated with unsuccessful treatment outcome among the all forms of and smear-positive TB cases, respectively.

Keywords: Ethiopia; Prisons; Treatment outcome; Tuberculosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aftercare
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Coinfection / epidemiology
  • Directly Observed Therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Ethambutol / therapeutic use
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Isoniazid / therapeutic use
  • Logistic Models
  • Lost to Follow-Up*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Transfer
  • Prisoners*
  • Prisons*
  • Pyrazinamide / therapeutic use
  • Retreatment
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rifampin / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors
  • Sputum
  • Streptomycin / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Pyrazinamide
  • Ethambutol
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin
  • Streptomycin