Initiation and completion of treatment for latent tuberculosis infection in migrants globally: a systematic review and meta-analysis

ESGITM and ESGMYC study groups, Kieran Rustage, Jessica Lobe, Sally E Hayward, Kristina L Kristensen, Ioana Margineanu, Ymkje Stienstra, Delia Goletti, Dominik Zenner, Teymur Noori, Manish Pareek, Christina Greenaway, Jon S Friedland, Laura B Nellums, Sally Hargreaves*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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    BACKGROUND: Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is one of the most prevalent infections globally and can lead to the development of active tuberculosis disease. In many low-burden countries, LTBI is concentrated within migrant populations often because of a higher disease burden in the migrant's country of origin. National programmes consequently focus on screening and treating LTBI in migrants to prevent future tuberculosis cases; however, how effective these programmes are is unclear. We aimed to assess LTBI treatment initiation and outcomes among migrants, and the factors that influence both.

    METHODS: For this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched Embase, MEDLINE, and Global Health, and manually searched grey literature from Jan 1, 2000, to April 21, 2020. We included primary research articles reporting on LTBI treatment initiation or completion, or both, in migrants and excluded articles in which data were not stratified by migrant status, or in which the data were related to outcomes before 2000. There were no geographical or language restrictions. All included studies were quality appraised using recognised tools depending on their design, and we assessed the heterogeneity of analyses using I2. We extracted data on the numbers of migrants initiating and completing treatment. Our primary outcomes were LTBI treatment initiation and completion in migrants (defined as foreign-born). We used random-effects meta-regression to examine the influence of factors related to these outcomes. The study is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42019140338).

    FINDINGS: 2199 publications were retrieved screened, after which 39 publications from 13 mostly high-income, low-burden countries were included in our analyses, with treatment initiation and completion data reported for 31 598 migrants positive for LTBI, with not all articles reporting the full pathway from initiation to completion. The pooled estimate for the true proportion of migrants testing positive who initiated treatment was 69% (95% CI 51-84; I2= 99·62%; 4409 of 8764). The pooled estimate for the true proportion of migrants on treatment in datasets, who subsequently completed it was 74% (95% CI = 66-81; I2= 99·19%; 15 516 of 25 629). Where data were provided for the entire treatment pathway, the pooled estimate for the true proportion of migrants who initiated and completed treatment after a positive test was only 52% (95% CI 40-64; I2= 98·90%; 3289 of 6652). Meta-regression showed that LTBI programmes are improving, with more recent reported data (2010-20) associated with better rates of treatment initiation and completion, with multiple complex factors affecting treatment outcomes in migrants.

    INTERPRETATION: Although our analysis highlights that LTBI treatment initiation and completion in migrants has improved considerably from 2010-20, there is still room for improvement, with drop out reported along the entire treatment pathway. The delivery of these screening and treatment programmes will require further strengthening if the targets to eradicate tuberculosis in low-incidence countries are to be met, with greater focus needed on engaging migrants more effectively in the clinic and understanding the diverse and unique barriers and facilitators to migrants initiating and completing treatment.

    FUNDING: European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, the Rosetrees Trust, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1701-1712
    Number of pages12
    JournalLancet Infectious Diseases
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec-2021


    • Global Health
    • Humans
    • Latent Tuberculosis/drug therapy
    • Mass Screening
    • Transients and Migrants

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