Article

The clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of screening for open angle glaucoma: a systematic review and economic evaluation

Health Services Research Unit, Institute of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK.
Health technology assessment (Winchester, England) (Impact Factor: 5.12). 11/2007; 11(41):iii-iv, ix-x, 1-190. DOI: 10.3310/hta11410
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To assess whether open angle glaucoma (OAG) screening meets the UK National Screening Committee criteria, to compare screening strategies with case finding, to estimate test parameters, to model estimates of cost and cost-effectiveness, and to identify areas for future research.
Major electronic databases were searched up to December 2005.
Screening strategies were developed by wide consultation. Markov submodels were developed to represent screening strategies. Parameter estimates were determined by systematic reviews of epidemiology, economic evaluations of screening, and effectiveness (test accuracy, screening and treatment). Tailored highly sensitive electronic searches were undertaken.
Most potential screening tests reviewed had an estimated specificity of 85% or higher. No test was clearly most accurate, with only a few, heterogeneous studies for each test. No randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of screening were identified. Based on two treatment RCTs, early treatment reduces the risk of progression. Extrapolating from this, and assuming accelerated progression with advancing disease severity, without treatment the mean time to blindness in at least one eye was approximately 23 years, compared to 35 years with treatment. Prevalence would have to be about 3-4% in 40 year olds with a screening interval of 10 years to approach cost-effectiveness. It is predicted that screening might be cost-effective in a 50-year-old cohort at a prevalence of 4% with a 10-year screening interval. General population screening at any age, thus, appears not to be cost-effective. Selective screening of groups with higher prevalence (family history, black ethnicity) might be worthwhile, although this would only cover 6% of the population. Extension to include other at-risk cohorts (e.g. myopia and diabetes) would include 37% of the general population, but the prevalence is then too low for screening to be considered cost-effective. Screening using a test with initial automated classification followed by assessment by a specialised optometrist, for test positives, was more cost-effective than initial specialised optometric assessment. The cost-effectiveness of the screening programme was highly sensitive to the perspective on costs (NHS or societal). In the base-case model, the NHS costs of visual impairment were estimated as 669 pounds. If annual societal costs were 8800 pounds, then screening might be considered cost-effective for a 40-year-old cohort with 1% OAG prevalence assuming a willingness to pay of 30,000 pounds per quality-adjusted life-year. Of lesser importance were changes to estimates of attendance for sight tests, incidence of OAG, rate of progression and utility values for each stage of OAG severity. Cost-effectiveness was not particularly sensitive to the accuracy of screening tests within the ranges observed. However, a highly specific test is required to reduce large numbers of false-positive referrals. The findings that population screening is unlikely to be cost-effective are based on an economic model whose parameter estimates have considerable uncertainty. In particular, if rate of progression and/or costs of visual impairment are higher than estimated then screening could be cost-effective.
While population screening is not cost-effective, the targeted screening of high-risk groups may be. Procedures for identifying those at risk, for quality assuring the programme, as well as adequate service provision for those screened positive would all be needed. Glaucoma detection can be improved by increasing attendance for eye examination, and improving the performance of current testing by either refining practice or adding in a technology-based first assessment, the latter being the more cost-effective option. This has implications for any future organisational changes in community eye-care services. Further research should aim to develop and provide quality data to populate the economic model, by conducting a feasibility study of interventions to improve detection, by obtaining further data on costs of blindness, risk of progression and health outcomes, and by conducting an RCT of interventions to improve the uptake of glaucoma testing.

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    Cell and Tissue Research 06/2013; DOI:10.1007/s00441-013-1675-x · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    Acta ophthalmologica 05/2013; 91(thesis3):1-47. DOI:10.1111/aos.12141 · 2.51 Impact Factor
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    • "We already know that glaucoma represents a huge health problem (Quigley & Broman 2006), and there is also proof of the advantages that treatment has to offer (CNTGSG, 1998; Heijl et al. 2002; Kass et al. 2002; Leske et al. 2003). Furthermore, it has been suggested that glaucoma screening might be cost-effective if high-risk groups are targeted, even if studies have shown that general population screening is not beneficial in relation to cost (Burr et al. 2007; Vaahtoranta- Lehtonen et al. 2007; Hernandez et al. 2008; Tuulonen 2011). However, further research is needed to clarify this matter. "
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Purpose of the research underlying this thesis: The objectives of this research were as follows: to compare the accuracy of results of analysis of the optic nerve head (ONH) achieved by computerized imaging using the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph (HRT) and by subjective assessment performed by physicians with different degrees of experience of glaucoma (paper III); to evaluate the effect of a continuous medical education (CME) lecture on subjective assessment of the ONH for diagnosis of glaucoma (paper II); to investigate subjective assessment of perimetric test results by physicians with varying knowledge of glaucoma with a trained artificial neural network (ANN) and to compare the certainty of the classifications (paper IV); and to compare the diagnostic performance of time-domain Stratus optical coherence tomography (OCT) with that of spectral-domain Cirrus OCT (paper I), frequency doubling technology (FDT) screening perimetry and scanning laser polarimetry with the GDx variable corneal compensator (VCC) in a random population-based sample and in patients with glaucoma of varying disease severity. 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Also, the group comprising all physicians provided specificity (75-92%) similar to that of both MRA (69 - 86%) and GPS (72-94%) (Andersson et al. 2011a). A 1-hr CME lecture on ONH assessment led to a significant improvement in sensitivity (from 70% to 80%) and a significant decrease in uncertain assessments (from 22% to 13%), whereas specificity remained unchanged (68%) (Andersson et al. 2011b). A rise in sensitivity was seen in all subgroups of physicians, including glaucoma experts. Thirty physicians assessing standard automated perimetry (SAP) test results as Humphrey Field Analyzer single-field analysis printouts with full StatPac information from 99 patients with glaucoma and 66 healthy subjects were compared with a trained ANN regarding diagnostic performance. ANN reached significantly higher sensitivity (93%) than the average physician (83%), whereas specificity was similar for these two groups (91% and 90%, respectively). 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In the population-based sample, both Stratus and Cirrus OCT showed high diagnostic accuracy with area under the receiver-operating curve (aROC) values close to 1.0 (Bengtsson et al. 2012). Both OCT instruments correctly classified all of the clinical glaucoma patients with advanced disease. FDT screening showed high sensitivity (91%) but erroneously gave normal test results for some eyes with advanced disease. GDx VCC had lower sensitivity (73-92%) and also led to a large proportion of examinations with an atypical retardation pattern that is known to affect the diagnostic efficiency of this instrument. Conclusions: The HRT MRA performed better than most physicians and was consistent with the glaucoma experts. These results suggest that MRA can be a valuable tool for diagnosing glaucoma in ordinary practice, particularly when only a few glaucoma experts are available. 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GDx VCC images for a relatively large number of eyes could not be analysed and is thus not appropriate for screening. The OCT instruments offer both high sensitivity and high specificity, and all eyes with advanced disease were correctly classified as glaucomatous in this evaluation. However, these instruments are still expensive and require special operator skills. Additional development to obtain OCT instrument that is more compact, easier to use and less expensive might render such tomography suitable as a screening tool for glaucoma.
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