Background: Dengue fever is rapidly expanding geographically, with about half of the world's population now at risk. Among the various diagnostic options, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are convenient and prompt, but limited in terms of accuracy and availability.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted of published data on the use of RDTs for dengue with respect to their economic impact. The search was conducted with combinations of key search terms, including "((Dengue[Title]) AND cost/economic)" and "rapid diagnostic test/assay (or point-of-care)". Articles with insufficient report on cost/economic aspect of dengue RDTs, usually on comparison of different RDTs or assessment of novel rapid diagnostic tools, were excluded. This review has been registered in the PROSPERO International prospective register of systematic reviews (registry #: CRD42015017775).
Results: Eleven articles were found through advanced search on Pubmed. From Embase and Web of Science, two and 14 articles were obtained, respectively. After removal of duplicate items, title screening was done on 21 published works and 12 titles, including 2 meeting abstracts, were selected for abstract review. For full-text review, by two independent reviewers, 5 articles and 1 meeting abstract were selected. Among these, the abstract was referring to the same study results as one of the articles. After full text review, two studies (two articles and one abstract) were found to report on cost-wise or economic benefits of dengue RDTs and were selected for data extraction. One study found satisfactory performance of IgM-based Panbio RDT, concluding that it would be cost-effective in endemic settings. The second study was a modeling analysis and showed that a dengue RDT would not be advantageous in terms of cost and effectiveness compared to current practice of antibiotics prescription for acute febrile illness.
Conclusions: Despite growing use of RDTs in research and clinical settings, there were limited data to demonstrate an economic impact. The available two studies reached different conclusions on the cost-effectiveness of dengue RDTs, although only one of the two studies reported outcomes from cost-effectiveness analysis of dengue and the other was considering febrile illness more generally. Evidence of such an impact would require further quantitative economic studies.
Keywords: Cost-effectiveness; Dengue; Dengue fever; Diagnostic; rapid diagnostic test (RDT).