A score to predict and stratify risk of tuberculosis in adult contacts of tuberculosis index cases: a prospective derivation and external validation cohort study

Lancet Infect Dis. 2017 Nov;17(11):1190-1199. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(17)30447-4. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


Background: Contacts of tuberculosis index cases are at increased risk of developing tuberculosis. Screening, preventive therapy, and surveillance for tuberculosis are underused interventions in contacts, particularly adults. We developed a score to predict risk of tuberculosis in adult contacts of tuberculosis index cases.

Methods: In 2002-06, we recruited contacts aged 15 years or older of index cases with pulmonary tuberculosis who lived in desert shanty towns in Ventanilla, Peru. We followed up contacts for tuberculosis until February, 2016. We used a Cox proportional hazards model to identify index case, contact, and household risk factors for tuberculosis from which to derive a score and classify contacts as low, medium, or high risk. We validated the score in an urban community recruited in Callao, Peru, in 2014-15.

Findings: In the derivation cohort, we identified 2017 contacts of 715 index cases, and median follow-up was 10·7 years (IQR 9·5-11·8). 178 (9%) of 2017 contacts developed tuberculosis during 19 147 person-years of follow-up (incidence 0·93 per 100 person-years, 95% CI 0·80-1·08). Risk factors for tuberculosis were body-mass index, previous tuberculosis, age, sustained exposure to the index case, the index case being in a male patient, lower community household socioeconomic position, indoor air pollution, previous tuberculosis among household members, and living in a household with a low number of windows per room. The 10-year risks of tuberculosis in the low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk groups were, respectively, 2·8% (95% CI 1·7-4·4), 6·2% (4·8-8·1), and 20·6% (17·3-24·4). The 535 (27%) contacts classified as high risk accounted for 60% of the tuberculosis identified during follow-up. The score predicted tuberculosis independently of tuberculin skin test and index-case drug sensitivity results. In the external validation cohort, 65 (3%) of 1910 contacts developed tuberculosis during 3771 person-years of follow-up (incidence 1·7 per 100 person-years, 95% CI 1·4-2·2). The 2·5-year risks of tuberculosis in the low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk groups were, respectively, 1·4% (95% CI 0·7-2·8), 3·9% (2·5-5·9), and 8·6%· (5·9-12·6).

Interpretation: Our externally validated risk score could predict and stratify 10-year risk of developing tuberculosis in adult contacts, and could be used to prioritise tuberculosis control interventions for people most likely to benefit.

Funding: Wellcome Trust, Department for International Development Civil Society Challenge Fund, Joint Global Health Trials consortium, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Imperial College National Institutes of Health Research Biomedical Research Centre, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Sir Halley Stewart Trust, WHO, TB REACH, and Innovation for Health and Development.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious*
  • Epidemiologic Methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peru
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Rural Population
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / transmission*
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult