The relationship between social risk factors and latent tuberculosis infection among individuals residing in England: a cross-sectional study

BMJ Glob Health. 2020 Dec;5(12):e003550. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003550.


Objective: To investigate the relationship between social risk factors and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) among individuals who are eligible for LTBI screening in the United Kingdom (UK).

Methods: This cross-sectional study used data collected in the UK Prognostic Evaluation of Diagnostic Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs) Consortium Study which enrolled 9176 recent tuberculosis (TB) contacts and migrants at National Health Service (NHS) facilities and community settings in the UK. The study outcome was LTBI (positive IGRA test (QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube or T-SPOT.TB)). The main exposures were history of smoking, history of substance misuse, homelessness, prison stay and socioeconomic deprivation.

Results: 4914 (56.2%) individuals resided in the most deprived areas and 2536 (27.6%) had LTBI. In the multivariable analysis (adjusting for age, gender, place of birth, ethnicity, HIV status, BCG vaccination and recent TB contact) living in the least deprived areas compared with living in the most deprived areas was associated with reduced odds of LTBI (odds ratio (OR)=0.68, 95% CI: 0.51 to 0.90) while ever been homeless (OR=1.50, 95% CI: 1.02 to 2.21) was associated with increased odds of LTBI. Smoking, homelessness and substance misuse were not associated with LTBI.

Conclusion: Social deprivation could be an important risk factor for LTBI, highlighting the social inequality in the burden of TB infection in the UK. Migrants and TB contacts who were socially deprived or homeless were at a significantly higher risk for LTBI, thus tailored intense public health interventions to these groups may help to reduce the risk of future TB disease.

Trial registration number: Registry (NCT01162265).

Keywords: epidemiology; public health; tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Latent Tuberculosis* / diagnosis
  • Latent Tuberculosis* / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • State Medicine
  • Tuberculin Test
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology

Associated data