Delays to Treatment Initiation Is Associated with Tuberculosis Treatment Outcomes among Patients on Directly Observed Treatment Short Course in Southwest Ethiopia: A Follow-Up Study

Journal Article
  • Asbot Asres
  • Degu Jerene
  • Wakgari Deressa
BMC Pulmonary Medicine
May 2018; vol. 18, p. 64. DOI:
Journal tags: 



Despite reported long delays to initiate anti-TB treatment and poor outcomes in different parts of Ethiopia and elsewhere, evidences on association between the delay and treatment outcomes are scanty.


A follow up study among 735 new TB cases registered at health facilities in districts of southwest Ethiopia was conducted from January 2015 to June 2016. Patients reported days elapsed between onset of illness and treatment commencement of 30 days cutoff was considered to ascertain exposure. Thus, those elapsed beyond 30 days to initiate anti-TB treatment since onset of illness were exposed and otherwise non-exposed. The cases were followed until earliest outcome was observed. Treatment outcomes was ascertained as per the World Health Organization standard definitions and dichotomized into ‘successful’ when cured or treatment completed and ‘unsuccessful’ when lost to follow-up or died or treatment failure. Bivariate and multiple log-binomial models were fitted to identify predictors of unsuccessful outcomes.


The overall treatment success among the treatment cohort was 89.7% (88.4% vs. 94.2%, p = 0.01 respectively among those initiated treatment beyond and within of 30 days of onset of illness. Higher risk of unsuccessful outcome was predicted by treatment initiation beyond 30 days of onset [Adjusted Relative Risk (ARR) = 1.92, 95%CI:1.30, 2.81], HIV co-infection (ARR = 2.18, 95%CI:1.47, 3.25) and received treatment at hospital (ARR = 3.73, 95%CI:2.23, 6.25). On the other hand, lower risk of unsuccessful outcome was predicted by weight gain (ARR = 0.40, 95%CI:0.19, 0.83) and sputum smear negative conversion (ARR = 0.17,95% CI:0.09, 0.33) at the end of second month treatment.


Higher risk of unsuccessful outcome is associated with prolonged days elapsed between onset of illness and treatment commencement. Hence, promotion of early care seeking, improving diagnostic and case holding efficiencies of health facilities and TB/HIV collaborative interventions can reduce risk of unsuccessful outcome.