Measuring influenza laboratory capacity: use of a tool to measure improvements

BMC Infect Dis. 2017 Jun 15;17(1):431. doi: 10.1186/s12879-017-2521-7.


Background: To collect information, identify training needs, and assist with influenza capacity building voluntary laboratory capacity assessments were conducted using a standardized tool in CDC cooperative agreement countries. To understand the usefulness of comparing results from repeat assessments and to determine if targeted training supported improvements, this paper details comparison of assessment results of conducting 17 repeat laboratory assessments between 2009 and 2013.

Methods: Laboratory assessments were conducted by SMEs in 17 laboratories (16 countries). We reviewed the quantitative assessment results of the laboratories that conducted both an initial and follow up assessment between 2009 to 2013 using repeated measures of Anova, (Mixed procedure of SAS (9.3)). Additionally, we compared the overall summary scores and the assessor recommendations from the two assessments.

Results: We were able to document a statistically significant improvement between the first and second assessments both on an aggregate as well as individual indicator score. Within the international capacity tool three of the eight categories recorded statistically significant improvement (equipment, management, and QA/QC), while the other tool categories (molecular, NIC, specimen, safety and virology) showed improvement in scores although not statistically significant.

Conclusions: We found that using a standardized tool and quantitative framework is useful for documenting capacity and performance improvement in identified areas over time. The use of the tool and standard reports with assessor recommendations assisted laboratories with establishing, maintaining, and improving influenza laboratory practices. On-going assessments and the consistent application of the analytic framework over time will continue to aid in building a measurement knowledge base for laboratory capacity.

Keywords: Assessment; Capacity building; Global Health; Influenza; Laboratory; Surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis*
  • Laboratories / standards*