Impact of socio-economic factors on Tuberculosis treatment outcomes in north-eastern Uganda: a mixed methods study


Published November 2021.


Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem and at 48%, Karamoja in North-Eastern Uganda has the lowest treatment success rate nationally. Addressing the social determinants of TB is crucial to ending TB. This study sought to understand the extent and ways in which socio-economic factors affect TB treatment outcomes in Karamoja.


We conducted a convergent parallel mixed methods study in 10 TB Diagnostic and Treatment Units. The study enrolled former TB patients diagnosed with drug-susceptible TB between April 2018 and March 2019. Unit TB and laboratory registers were reviewed to identify pre-treatment losses to follow-up. Four focus group discussions with former TB patients and 18 key informant interviews with healthcare workers were conducted. Principle component analysis was used to generate wealth quintiles that were compared to treatment outcomes using the proportion test. The association between sociodemographic characteristics and TB treatment outcomes was evaluated using the chi-square test and multiple logistic regression.


A total of 313 participants were randomly selected from 1184 former TB patients recorded in the unit TB registers. Of these, 264 were contacted in the community and consented to join the study: 57% were male and 156 (59.1%) participants had unsuccessful treatment outcomes. The wealthiest quintile had a 58% reduction in the risk of having an unsuccessful treatment outcome (adj OR = 0.42, 95% CI 0.18–0.99, p = 0.047). People who were employed in the informal sector (adj OR = 4.71, 95% CI 1.18–18.89, p = 0.029) and children under the age of 15 years who were not in school or employed (adj OR = 2.71, 95% CI 1.11–6.62, p = 0.029) had significantly higher odds of unsuccessful treatment outcome. Analysis of the pre-treatment loss to follow-up showed that 17.2% of patients with pulmonary bacteriologically confirmed TB did not initiate treatment with a higher proportion among females (21.7%) than males (13.5%). Inadequate food, belonging to migratory communities, stigma, lack of social protection, drug stock-outs and transport challenges affected TB treatment outcomes.


This study confirmed that low socio-economic status is associated with poor TB treatment outcomes emphasizing the need for multi- and cross-sectoral approaches and socio-economic enablers to optimise TB care.


Nidoi, J., Muttamba, W., Walusimbi, S. et al. Impact of socio-economic factors on Tuberculosis treatment outcomes in north-eastern Uganda: a mixed methods study. BMC Public Health 21, 2167 (2021).
Geographies Uganda

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