Economic evaluation of latent tuberculosis infection screening among health care workers in Houston

Chika Honda, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Since interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) were introduced in the 2000's, tuberculin skin testing (TST) and IGRAs have been used in various latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) screening settings. IGRAs are laboratory-based tests and are considered not to be affected by previous Bacille de Calmette et Guérin (BCG) vaccination; however, they are more costly when compared directly with TST, which does not require specimen processing in a laboratory. This study aimed to examine TST and two types of IGRAs, QuantiFERON-TB Gold in Tube (QFT-GIT) and T-SPOT. TB (TSPOT), from an economic viewpoint. Firstly, a systematic literature review was conducted to identify cost related analyses of LTBI screening. Secondly, specific cost information detailing each test's items and labor was collected from an LTBI screening program of health care workers in Houston, and the cost of each test was computed. Thirdly, using the computed cost estimate of each test, cost-effectiveness analyses were conducted to compare TST and IGRAs. A literature search showed that a limited number of studies have been conducted, but the IGRA's economic advantages were common among studies. Cost analyses showed that IGRAs were much more costly than TST. The results were consistent with previous studies. In cost-effectiveness analyses, where test cost and consequential TB-related cost were considered, IGRAs showed variable advantages over TST depending on the targeted population. When only non BCG-vaccinated people were considered, TST was the least costly option among the three tests. On the other hand, when only BCG-vaccinated people were considered, IGRAs were less costly options. These results were mostly consistent even with varying assumption parameters. IGRAs can be more costly than TST, but their economic disadvantages are alleviated when the target population was BCG-vaccinated. Based on current knowledge, IGRAs may be recommended in a population where the BCG history is mixed. Additional studies are needed to better understand IGRA's reliability among low-incidence and low-risk populations in which background TB prevalence is low.

Subject Area

Economics|Public health

Recommended Citation

Honda, Chika, "Economic evaluation of latent tuberculosis infection screening among health care workers in Houston" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3518859.