Pretreatment loss to follow-up of tuberculosis patients in Chennai, India: a cohort study with implications for health systems strengthening.


Thomas, B.E .; Subbaraman, R .; Sellappan, S .; Suresh, C .; Lavanya, J .; Lincy, S .; Raja, A.L .; Javeed, B .; Kokila, S .; Arumugam, S .; Swaminathan, S .; Mayer, K.H .


BMC Infectious Diseases; 2018; 18(1): 142     


Abstract: Background: Pretreatment loss to follow-up (PTLFU) is a barrier to tuberculosis (TB) control in India's Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP). PTLFU studies have not been conducted in India's mega-cities, where patient mobility may complicate linkage to care.


Methods: We collected data from patient registries for May 2015 from 22 RNTCP designated microscopy centers (DMCs) in Chennai and audited addresses and phone numbers for patients evaluated for suspected TB to understand how missing contact information may contribute to PTLFU. From November 2015 to June 2016, we audited one month of records from each of these 22 DMCs and tracked newly diagnosed smear-positive patients using RNTCP records, phone calls, and home visits. We defined PTLFU cases as including: (1) patients who did not start TB therapy within 14 days and (2) patients who started TB therapy but were lost to follow-up or died before official RNTCP registration. We used multivariate logistic regression to identify factors associated with PTLFU.


Results: In the audit of May 2015 DMC registries, out of 3696 patients evaluated for TB, 1273 (34.4%) had addresses and phone numbers that were illegible or missing. Out of 344 smear-positive patients tracked from November 2015 to June 2016, 40 (11.6%) did not start TB therapy within 14 days and 36 (10.5%) started therapy but were lost to follow-up or died before official RNTCP registration, for an overall PTLFU rate of 22.1% (95%CI: 17.8%26.4%). Of all PTLFU patients, 55 (72.4%) were lost to follow-up and 21 (27.6%) died before starting treatment or before RNTCP registration. In the regression analysis, age>50 years (OR 2.9, 95%CI 1.46.5), history of prior TB (OR 3.9, 95%CI 2.27.1), evaluation at a high patient volume DMC (OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.76.3), and absence of legible patient contact information (OR 4.5, 95%CI 1.315.1) were significantly associated with PTLFU.


Conclusions: In an Indian mega-city, we found a high PTLFU rate, especially in patients with a prior TB history, who are at greater risk for having drug-resistance. Enhancing quality of care and health system transparency is critical for improving linkage of newly diagnosed patients to TB care in urban India.


Keywords: Tuberculosis; India; Cascade of care; Quality of care; Linkage to care; Initial default; Pretreatment loss to follow-up; Implementation science; Health systems research; Operations research  


Back to List of publications / Home