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Tubercle. 1981 Jun;62(2):103-12.

A randomised study of two policies for managing default in out-patients collecting supplies of drugs for pulmonary tuberculosis in a large city in South India.


A randomized controlled study was undertaken to compare 2 policies of default management in out-patients with smear-negative pulmonary tuberculosis attending a large chest clinic in Madras city. All the patients were due to collect monthly supplies of drugs for a year, for daily self-administration at home. In the routine (R) policy, if a patient failed to collect the drug supply on a due date, a reminder letter was posted on the fourth day and, if necessary, a health visitor visited the home a week later. In the intensive (I) policy, a health visitor visited the home on the 4th day and, if necessary, a week later and at 1 and at 2 months. The main analyses concern 150 patients (75 R, 75 I), of whom 16 R and 15 I patients had a positive culture. A total of 29 patients (11 R, 18 I) did not default at any time. For the remaining 64 R and 57 I patients, the mean numbers of defaults were 3.0 and 2.3, and the mean numbers of defaulter retrieval actions were 4.3 and 3.8, respectively. The home visit as the first action (I series) was successful in retrieving defaulters on 65% of 132 occasions, while the reminder letter (R series) was successful in 56% of 193 occasions (P = 0.1). Following the second action, which was a home visit in both the series, these proportions became 80% and 84%, respectively. in the I series, 22 third and 18 fourth actions were taken, but the patient was retrieved in only 4 and 0 instances respectively. The mean number of drug collections during the year was significantly higher in the I series (9.8) than in the R series (8.6). Finally, the proportions of patients who made 12 collections in a 15-month period, a satisfactory target under Indian Programme conditions, were 69% and 52%, respectively (P = 0.07).

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