Food incentives improve adherence to tuberculosis drug treatment among homeless patients in Russia
The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of food incentives on adherence to tuberculosis (TB) drug treatment among homeless patients with TB. Food packages were thus given as a part of directly observed therapy to 142 homeless patients with TB at a dispensary in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation. In addition, a social worker provided the patients with information and legal assistance, for example help with internal passports. Among the 142 patients, 66 were included in the study at the dispensary during their entire treatment period, while 76 patients were included in the study during shorter periods mainly because of transfer to inpatient care. In the first group, 59% of the patients continued the TB drug treatment without interruption in contrast to 31% in a control group. In the second group, that is those studied during shorter periods, 95% continued the TB drug treatment without interruption while attached to the dispensary. Food was introduced in the TB programme of the City of St. Petersburg as a consequence of this study. In conclusion, it can be stated that the food incentive had a strong positive impact on the adherence to TB drug treatment among these socially marginalized patients. The social support contributed in all probability also to the positive results.