Choosing incentives to stimulate tuberculosis treatment compliance in a poor county in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil

Marcia Teresa Carreira Teixeira Belo, Lia Selig, Ronir Raggio Luiz, Christy Hanson, Ana Lucia Luna, Eleny Guimarães Teixeira, Anete Trajman
Medical Science Monitor: International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research 2006, 12 (5): PH1-5

BACKGROUND: Tuberculosis (TB) treatment default is a major constraint of TB control, resulting in continued disease transmission and possibly the emergence of multidrug resistance. Marginalized populations may abandon treatment before being cured. The objective of this study was to evaluate the socioeconomic status (SES) of TB patients and identify potential incentives for improving treatment compliance by SES.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in a public health unit in Duque de Caxias, a county with one of the lowest per capita incomes in Rio de Janeiro state. From November 2003 to March 2004, 305 TB patients answered an anonymous questionnaire on socio-demographic aspects, household items and family income, history of previous treatment default, and on incentives for improving treatment adherence. Incentives were classified as economic, administrative, health service support, and habits, and scored as fundamental (3), important (2), desirable (1), or irrelevant (0).

RESULTS: Health service support incentives had the highest scores overall. The aggregate economic incentive score correlated with SES (r = -0.191, p = 0.001). Among the 20% poorest patients, 16.7% had a previous history of default vs. 1.6% among the wealthiest (p = 0.004). Patients with a history of treatment default were significantly more likely to choose health service support incentives than other patients (r = -0.263, p = 0.039).

CONCLUSIONS: Professional commitment will be needed to effect the necessary changes in health service support. Financial support for food and transportation subsidies may be required to improve treatment compliance among the poorest TB patients, i.e. those most likely to have previously defaulted from treatment.

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