From Patient to Policy: Using data to drive TB elimination in BC’s foreign-born population

A doctor listens to the heartbeat of an older man in a hospital setting

Data access has been approved for a study to evaluate current screening guidelines and guide decisions on the implementation of population based foreign-born Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI) screening programs across British Columbia (BC).

The project is being lead by Dr. James Johnston, former Head of the Respiratory Medicine Division at Vancouver General Hospital, Evaluation Lead of Provincial Tuberculosis Services at the BC Centre for Disease Control, and Clinical Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Funding for the project comes from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Michael Smith Health Research BC (formerly The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research).

“We believe that certain groups at higher TB risk can be identified based on demographic and medical risk factors,” says Dr. Johnston.

The specific objectives of this study are threefold. The first is to identify specific subgroups within the foreign-born population of BC that are at high-risk for active TB based on demographic and medical risk factors. This will include the development of a TB risk score that will quantify an individual’s risk of active TB depending on demographic and medical risk factors. The second objective is to determine which high-risk populations would be most cost-effective to screen and treat for LTBI from a health system’s perspective. The third objective is to implement the most cost-effective strategies across the province through a network of stakeholders, physicians, and community groups.

“Within BC health services, we anticipate that targeted LTBI screening will require a large scale-up in health care capacity,” according to Dr. Johnston. “Understanding how to appropriately scale-up in an evidence based, and cost-effective manner, is important.”

The study cohort includes all people that immigrated to Canada between 1985 and 2019 and have been a resident of British Columbia at any point in time throughout the years. PopData will link data sets from the BC Ministry of Health, BC Cancer, the BC Centre for Disease Control, the BC Provincial Renal Agency, Immunization, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and Statistics Canada for analysis.