Household-Contact Investigation for Detection of Tuberculosis in Vietnam

N Engl J Med. 2018 Jan 18;378(3):221-229

The authors performed a cluster-randomized, controlled trial at clinics in 70 districts (local government areas with an average population of approximately 500,000 in urban areas and 100,000 in rural areas) in eight provinces of Vietnam. Health workers at each district clinic or hospital were assigned to perform either household contact intervention plus standard passive case finding (intervention group) or passive case finding alone (control group). In the intervention districts, household contacts of patients with positive results for tuberculosis on sputum smear microscopy (smear-positive tuberculosis) were invited for clinical assessment and chest radiography at baseline and at 6, 12, and 24 months. They enrolled 25,707 household contacts of 10,964 patients who had smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis. In the 36 districts that were included in the intervention group, 180 of 10,069 contacts were registered as having tuberculosis (1788 cases per 100,000 population), as compared with 110 of 15,638 contacts (703 per 100,000) in the control group (relative risk of the primary outcome in the intervention group, 2.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0 to 3.2; P<0.001); the relative risk of smear-positive disease among household contacts in the intervention group was 6.4 (95% CI, 4.5 to 9.0; P<0.001). Household-contact investigation plus standard passive case finding was more effective than standard passive case finding alone for the detection of tuberculosis in a highprevalence setting at 2 years. Message for clinicians: bring in contacts of smear positive cases for testing at baseline and then at 6, 12 and 24 months.