Purpose: Non-adherence to tuberculosis therapy can lead to drug resistance, prolonged infectiousness, and death; therefore, understanding what causes treatment default is important. Pakistan has one of the highest burdens of tuberculosis in the world, yet there have been no qualitative studies in Pakistan that have specifically examined why default occurs. We conducted a mixed methods study at a tuberculosis clinic in Karachi to understand why patients with drug-susceptible tuberculosis default from treatment, and to identify factors associated with default. Patients attending this clinic pick up medications weekly and undergo family-supported directly observed therapy. Methods: In-depth interviews were administered to 21 patients who had defaulted. We also compared patients who defaulted with those who were cured, had completed, or had failed treatment in 2013. Results: Qualitative analyses showed the most common reasons for default were the financial burden of treatment, and medication side effects and beliefs. The influence of finances on other causes of default was also prominent, as was concern about the effect of treatment on family members. In quantitative analysis, of 2120 patients, 301 (14.2%) defaulted. Univariate analysis found that male gender (OR: 1.34, 95% CI: 1.04-1.71), being 35-59 years of age (OR: 1.54, 95% CI: 1.14-2.08), or being 60 years of age or older (OR: 1.84, 95% CI: 1.17-2.88) were associated with default. After adjusting for gender, disease site, and patient category, being 35-59 years of age (aOR: 1.49, 95% CI: 1.10-2.03) or 60 years of age or older (aOR: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.12-2.77) were associated with default. Conclusions: In multivariate analysis age was the only variable associated with default. This lack of identifiable risk factors and our qualitative findings imply that default is complex and often due to extrinsic and medication-related factors. More tolerable medications, improved side effect management, and innovative cost-reduction measures are needed to reduce default from tuberculosis treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)