Researchers from China, the Philippines and LSTM have today published a new systematic review of reminder systems to improve patient adherence to tuberculosis (TB) treatment. Reminder systems include prompts in advance of a forthcoming appointment to help ensure the patients attend, and also actions when people miss an appointment, such as phoning them or arranging a home visit.
This review is the latest in a suite of reviews produced by authors from the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group, hosted at LSTM, evaluating interventions to improve adherence to TB treatment. Effective treatment for TB requires people to take multiple drugs every day for at least six months, and many patients drop out of treatment before it is completed (especially when they start feeling better) because they forget, or due to the costs and inconvenience of attending multiple clinic appointments. Incomplete treatment contributes to the spread of TB and the development of drug resistance.
Lead author, Dr Qin Liu from the China Effective Health Care Network, said: "Policies of sending reminders to people pre-appointment, and contacting people who miss appointments, seem sensible additions to any TB programme, and this review provides evidence that they have important benefits and can contribute to improving treatment completion".
New editions of reviews on the use of money and other material incentives and directly observed therapy to improve adherence are expected over the coming months.