The relationship between delayed or incomplete treatment and all-cause mortality in patients with tuberculosis

JAMA. 1996 Oct 16;276(15):1223-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.1996.03540150025026.


Objective: To analyze the factors associated with survival in patients with pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis in New York City.

Design: Observational study of a citywide cohort of tuberculosis cases.

Setting: New York City, April 1991, before the strengthening of its control program.

Patients: All 229 newly diagnosed cases of tuberculosis documented by culture in April 1991. Most patients (74%) were male, and the median age was 37 years (range, 1-89 years). In all, 89% belonged to minority groups. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection was present in 50% and multidrug resistance in 7% of the cases. Twenty-one patients (9%) were not treated.

Main outcome measures: Follow-up information was collected through the New York City tuberculosis registry; death from any cause was verified through the National Death Index.

Results: Cumulative all-cause mortality by October 1994 was 44%; the median survival for those who died was 6.3 months (range, 0 days to 3 years). The most important baseline predictors of mortality, adjusted for baseline clinical and demographic factors, were acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (91% vs 11% in HIV-seronegative patients; Cox relative risk [RR], 7.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.1-29.1), multidrug resistance (87% vs 39% in pansensitive cases; adjusted RR, 5.8; 95% CI, 2.3-14.5), and lack of treatment (81% vs 40%; adjusted RR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.0-9.7). Also, 11 of 13 HIV-infected patients who started treatment after a 1-month delay died. Among 173 patients surviving the recommended treatment period, those who completed therapy (66%) had a lower subsequent mortality (20% vs 37%; RR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.9).

Conclusions: Mortality from tuberculosis was high, even among patients without multidrug resistance who were not known to be infected with HIV. Most HIV-seropositive patients with delayed therapy died. Multidrug resistance predicted higher mortality, and treatment completion was associated with improved subsequent patient survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Patient Compliance
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Registries
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Refusal
  • Tuberculosis / complications
  • Tuberculosis / mortality*
  • Tuberculosis / therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / mortality
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / therapy


  • Antitubercular Agents