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Poor treatment adherence among leprosy patients contribute to relapse, development of antimicrobial resistance, and the eventual plateauing of the prevalence and incidence of leprosy not just in the Philippines, but also worldwide. For this reason, we aimed to identify the patterns and determinants affecting treatment completion and default among multibacillary leprosy patients.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study involving three large hospitals in Metro Manila, Philippines. Patients who started the World Health Organization - Multiple Drug Therapy for multibacillary leprosy between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2013 were included in the study. Selected socio-demographic and clinical data were abstracted from the patient treatment records. Survival analysis and proportional hazards regression were used to analyze the data.


Records of 1,034 patients with a total follow-up time of 12,287 person-months were included in the analysis. Most patients were male, younger than 45 years old, had an initial bacterial index between 1 and 4, and were residents of Metro Manila. Less than 20% had their treatment duration extended to more than 12 months. Treatment adherence of the patients was poor with less than 60% completing treatment. Most patients complete their treatment within 12 months, but treatment duration may be extended for up to three years. Patients who default from treatment usually do so a few months after initiating it. After adjusting for other variables, hospital, initial bacterial index, and non-extended treatment duration were associated with treatment completion. These factors, in addition to age, were also found to be associated with treatment default.


This study provides quantitative evidence that there might be marked variations in how doctors in particular hospitals manage their patients, and these findings underscore the need to revisit and re-evaluate clinical practice guidelines to improve treatment outcomes and adherence.