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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2000 Apr;4(4):345-9.

High rate of non-compliance with anti-tuberculosis treatment despite a retrieval system: a call for implementation of directly observed therapy in Saudi Arabia.

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King Saud University Medical College, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



Taif Chest Hospital, Taif, Saudi Arabia.


Non-compliance with anti-tuberculosis drug therapy is recognised as a major cause of treatment failure, drug resistance and relapse. In Saudi Arabia, the problem of non-compliance is frequent and has serious implications which need urgent attention from the health-care authority. The objectives of this study were to define factors that affect compliance rate and to determine the appropriate methods to modify these factors.


We designed and tested a retrieval system to improve patient return for follow-up and drug collection after an initial hospital admission period in a large chest hospital in the western region of the country.


Of 628 patients, 358 (57%) did not attend the first out-patient clinic visit. The retrieval system was successful in bringing back only 83 patients, reducing the default rate by only 13.2%. Various factors that may affect compliance were analysed in the remaining 275 (43.8%) non-compliant patients.


Because many of these factors are difficult to change, we strongly support implementation of the WHO-recommended directly observed treatment (DOT) strategy in Saudi Arabia and other countries facing similar problems with tuberculosis control.

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