Background Tuberculosis (TB) in the elderly remains a challenge in intermediate disease burden areas like Hong Kong. Given a higher TB burden in the elderly and limited impact of current case-finding strategy by patient-initiated pathway, proactive screening approaches for the high-risk group could be optimal and increasingly need targeted economic evaluations. In this study, we examined whether and under what circumstance the screening strategies are cost-effective compared with no screening strategy for the elderly at admission to residential care homes. Methods A decision analytic process based on Markov model was adopted to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of four strategies: (i) no screening, (ii) TB screening (CXR) and (iii) TB screening (Xpert) represent screening for TB in symptomatic elderly by chest X-ray and Xpert® MTB/ RIF respectively, and (iv) LTBI/TB screening represents screening for latent and active TB infection by QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube and chest X-ray. The target population was a hypothetical cohort of 65-year-old people, using a health service provider perspective and a time horizon of 20 years. The outcomes were direct medical costs, life-years and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) measured by incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER). Results In the base-case analysis, no screening was the most cost-saving; TB screening (CXR) was dominated by TB screening (Xpert); LTBI/TB screening resulted in more life-years and QALYs accrued. The ICERs of LTBI/TB screening were US$19,712 and US$29,951 per QALY gained compared with no screening and TB screening (Xpert), respectively. At the willingness-to-pay threshold of US$50,000 per QALY gained, LTBI/TB screening was the most cost-effective when the probability of annual LTBI reactivation was greater than 0.155% and acceptability of LTBI/TB screening was greater than 38%. In 1,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation, the probabilities of no screening, TB screening (CXR), TB screening (Xpert), and LTBI/TB screening to be cost-effective were 0, 1.3%, 20.1%, and 78.6% respectively. Conclusions Screening for latent and active TB infection in Hong Kong elderly people at admission to residential care homes appears to be highly effective and cost-effective. The key findings may be the next key factor to bring down TB endemic in the elderly population among intermediate TB burden areas.
Li, J., Yip, B. H. K., Leung, C., Chung, W., Kwok, K. O., Chan, E. Y. Y., … Chung, P. (2018). Screening for latent and active tuberculosis infection in the elderly at admission to residential care homes: A cost-effectiveness analysis in an intermediate disease burden area. PLoS ONE, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189531