Migration is a major challenge to tuberculosis (TB) control worldwide. TB treatment requires multiple drugs for at least six months. Some TB patients default before completing their treatment regimen, which can lead to ongoing infectiousness and drug resistance.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of 29,943 active TB cases among urban migrants that were reported between 2000 to 2008 in Shanghai, China. We used logistic regression models to identify factors independently associated with treatment defaults in TB patients among urban migrants during 2005-2008.
Fifty-two percent of the total TB patients reported in Shanghai during the study period were among urban migrants. Three factors increased the odds of a treatment default: case management using self-administered therapy (OR, 5.84, 95% CI, 3.14-10.86, p<0.0005), being a retreatment case (OR, 1.47, 95% CI, 1.25-1.71, p<0.0005), and age >60 years old (OR, 1.33, 95% CI, 1.05-1.67, p=0.017). The presence of a cavity in the initial chest radiograph decreased the odds for a treatment default (OR, 0.87, 95% CI, 0.77-0.97, p=0.015), as did migration from central China (OR, 0.85, 95% CI, 0.73-0.99, p=0.042), case management by family members (OR, 0.73, 95% CI 0.66-0.81, p<0.0005), and the combination of case detection by a required physical exam and case management by health care staff (OR, 0.64, 95% CI, 0.45-0.93, p=0.019).
Among TB patients who were urban migrants in Shanghai, case management using self-administered therapy was the strongest modifiable risk factor that was independently associated with treatment defaults. Interventions that target retreated TB cases could also reduce treatment defaults among urban migrants. Health departments should develop effective measures to prevent treatment defaults among urban migrants, to ensure completion of therapy among urban migrants who move between cities and provinces, and to improve reporting of treatment outcomes.