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Education Materials > Publications > Improving Patients Adherence to TB Treatment > Introduction

Improving Patient Adherence to Tuberculosis Treatment (1994)


Tuberculosis (TB), a contagious disease that frequently affects the lungs, has returned as a public health threat in the United States. From 1985 (the year with the lowest number of TB cases since national reporting began in 1953) through 1993, reported cases of TB increased 14% (1).

TB is nearly always curable if patients are given a complete and uninterrupted course of drug therapy and if they take these medications as prescribed. However, poor adherence to TB medication regimens is a common problem and leads to inadequate treatment. The consequences of inadequate and incomplete TB treatment are serious (2, 3, 4):

  • prolonged illness and disability for the patient
  • infectiousness of the patient, causing continued transmission of TB in the community
  • development of drug-resistant TB
  • the possibility of death

This booklet describes strategies and perspectives for improving patient adherence to TB treatment. These strategies are geared toward the concept of providing individualized services that are sensitive to the health, social, cultural, and economic needs of persons with TB. The booklet covers the following topics:

  • basic assumptions underlying the care of persons with TB
  • getting to know your patient
  • predicting and assessing adherence
  • strategies for improving adherence
  • problem solving
  • adherence by children and adolescents
  • legal remedies for ensuring adherence

This information is intended for health care workers who provide TB prevention and treatment services in a variety of settings.



Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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